Exploding Chalk Art

Are you looking for a STEAM activity that will keep your kids busy for over an hour? Have I got the project for you. The kids I work with love sidewalk chalk, getting messy, and science experiments, and this one combines all three. Our favorite summertime process art activity is a combo of Kids Activities Blog's Fizzing Sidewalk Paint, and the Freezy Ice Chalk recipe from Growing a Jeweled Rose. This one is always a hit!

You'll need: 
  • corn starch
  • baking soda
  • water
  • liquid watercolors or food coloring
  • vinegar
  • spray bottles or squeeze bottles
  • ice cube tray
  • paintbrushes
  1. Prepare the ice chalk the night before.  Mix 1/3 leveled cup corn starch, 1/3 heaping cup baking soda, 1/3 cup water, and liquid watercolors. If you use liquid watercolors, you only need a few drops, but if you use food coloring you need to use a lot to get vibrant colors. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. 
  2. Prepare the sidewalk paint. Mix 1/3 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup baking soda together well. Add liquid watercolors or food coloring. Add 3/4 cups water. Put the sidewalk paint in cups or squeeze bottles. 
  3. Fill spray bottles and squeeze bottles with vinegar. Set these aside to bring out later. 
  4. Set out the paint and paintbrushes on the driveway. I always like to put some paint in squeeze bottles when we do process art because it's so fun for little hands to squeeze! (It also helps them to build up core strength and dexterity in their hands and fingers, as well as eye-hand coordination, which will help them manipulate a pencil on paper.)
  5. Let the kids paint. 
  6. When they seem to be winding down, introduce the ice chalk. I set these out in Tupperware containers around the driveway, and the kids always have fun painting with them and watching them melt. 
  7. Introduce the spray bottles filled with vinegar. This is always the best part- when the kids can watch their artwork explode on the driveway they're all smiling from ear to ear! 

This is an awesome activity because it's really fun, but also because there are so many benefits. When kids participate in process art activities like this, they're strengthening subsystems in the mind that improve memory, processing, and sequencing. They also develop cognitive and language skills. I love watching how fascinated they all are by the chemical reactions that happen when they spray vinegar directly on the ice cubes. This always keeps them busy for over an hour! Admittedly, I purchase a jug of vinegar at Sam's Club, so they have a LOT of materials to work with.

And since my kiddo loves sensory play, she always has to check and see how it feels to pour the materials all over her hands and feet. I just love this shot below! Little does she know, she's actually building the foundation for a multitude of scientific concepts here - physics (flow, motion) and chemistry (solutions, cohesion, chemical reactions). Wouldn't it be awesome if schools across America threw out flash cards and worksheets and started doing stuff like this? A girl can dream!

Need some more ideas? Head to our Pinterest process.art boardFacebook page, Instagram @smocks.on, or even to my personal Instagram account @momma_teaching where we are constantly sharing our major process art wins. Inspo everywhere!

Happy experimenting!
xo Melissa

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