How Chalk Plus Water Equals Hours of Outdoor Fun for Kids

Do you have a sidewalk nearby?

Got chalk and water?

Then you have the makings of a fun activity to get your kids outdoors.

In this article I’ll show you how to turn a few hours outside into a chalk art extravaganza.

All for the price of a box of sidewalk chalk.

Chalk art: draw outside and discover how chalk works on different surfaces, learn about layering and blending colors and how water changes the picture.

Why Chalk Art With Water?

Chalk art combined with water is a simple idea that requires little planning and is practically free but yields priceless rewards.

It combines three things kids love most: water, drawing and imagination.

Chalk art gives kids permission to tap into that impish feeling by drawing on the sidewalk, a fence or a wall and then splashing water everywhere. While they’re at it, they will create some individual and amazing art.

They can make chalk art almost anywhere outdoors—in your garden or yard, at the beach or at a neighborhood park—as long as there’s access to water.

Simply make a chalk drawing on any ‘natural canvas,’ then add some water.

what you need

Water + Chalk + Kids = Fun Chalk Art.

As the water mixes with the chalk, ask your kids to use their imagination to draw over the changing picture and create something new.

Use a watering can to sprinkle or a paintbrush to splatter water on a chalk drawing. What was once a face may become a pizza. Add antennae and it could become a monster. Splatter more water and turn it into whatever your child sees.

You can repeat this as many times as you like to make the art “perpetual.” It’s unending!

This activity will open kids’ eyes to forces of nature they take for granted; dispersing, water evaporation, waves and tides.

It’s a brilliant way to share experiences and quality time as a family.

You Will Need

  • Chalk – bright colors and white
  • Water or waves
  • Natural canvas = space to draw
  • One or more kids!

These optional items are great for additional creativity:

  • An old brush or paintbrush is perfect for splattering water
  • A watering can will create raindrop effects
  • A sponge is great for blending colors
  • Some rags for making patterns

Preparation Time

10 minutes to gather the items you need and find your ‘natural canvas’ area

Activity Time

2 hours (or longer)

Location

Any sidewalk, backyard with paving, a driveway, a sea wall or boardwalk

What to Draw?

The only limit is the imagination of the kids. Try simple, colorful drawings.

draw geometric shapes

Simple, geometric shapes work well.

The water can transform basic outlines and shapes quickly. But you can draw anything you want. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Flowers
  • Faces
  • Rainbows
  • Fish
  • Geometric patterns
  • Trace around each other’s body

#1: Chalk Art in the Yard

Step 1

Find your natural canvas in the backyard. A sidewalk, patio or fence will work well.

Use chalk to draw your first picture. Use bold lines, simple shapes and plenty of colors.

If you have a sponge or some old rags, you can blend the chalk and create different effects.

blending colors

He has drawn a pig and used a sponge to blend colors.

Step 2

Take your watering can or paintbrush and splatter and sprinkle water over your drawing.

splatter water on chalk

We used a paintbrush to splatter and our watering can to sprinkle water.

Step 3

Wait 10 minutes. Let the sun or winds dry your drawing. The water will disappear as it evaporates off your canvas.

Step 4

Look at the drawing now. What has happened? Look at the lines and colors that remain. Use your imagination to decide what your drawing could become next.

Blending and mixing the colors can help to really change the drawing. If you don’t mind getting a bit messy, use hands to blend colors on softer surfaces like smooth concrete and brushes on rough surfaces like rocks or fences. It all helps to turn your chalk design into something new.

blend to transform image

This was my starfish, but I turned it into a wise old man using my hands to blend the green chalk to create a long beard.

Step 5

Use your watering can or paintbrush to add water again.

This time, try a different method of adding the water. How about using the paintbrush to make bold water lines or spirals? You could even pour on lots of water and use a rag to make patterns.

We’re using brushes and sponges to change the pictures we drew.

Step 6

Wait 10 minutes for the water to dry. Just enough time to have a drink and a snack!

Step 7

Take another look at your drawing and notice how it has changed again. You can repeat steps 1-6 as many times as you want. The drawing is unending.

Why not take a photo of each stage to show your friends how much fun you had.

#2: Chalk Art by the Sea

If you live near the sea or a lake, it’s great to try chalk art where natural water comes in waves.

Using the waves to change your drawing adds an element of nature.

You have to be quick to draw and redraw your chalk creations.

Waves wash over your chalk flower and it becomes an octopus. Draw some leaves on the octopus’ tentacles and it becomes a giant beanstalk. More waves turn it into a snake. Give the snake some legs and it’s a caterpillar.

See how fun and creative this can be?

fish caught in waves

We drew a fish, and as it was near the sea, the waves quickly washed over the drawing.

As the waves wash over your drawing, watch how the colors change. If you draw on wet ground, do you notice what happens to the colors?

Watch as a rainbow is washed with waves, brushed and re-created as a colorful hairstyle!

No waves for your chalk art? Just use a couple of buckets.

use water if no waves

Splash water on your drawing with a bucket if you don’t have waves.

Choose some rocks as your natural canvas, make your drawing, and throw water over your picture. This can be fun, but be warned—you may get very wet!!!

#3: Make Your Own Chalk

To add another element of creativity to your art, you can make your own chalk.

Homemade chalk works best when you use it as soon as you take it out of the mold and it takes about a day to dry, so if you plan to do this, remember to add in extra preparation time.

Chalk Recipe

  • 1 cup Plaster of Paris
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • Powdered tempera paint
  • Candy or popsicle molds or 5 oz disposable cups
  • Greaseproof or parchment paper (optional)

Mix all the ingredients. If you want bold colors, use plenty of paint. For pale colors, use less.

Pour the mixture into your molds (if you line them with greaseproof paper, it’s easier to remove the chalk).

Caution: Plaster of Paris can get warm when setting so keep little fingers away from it.

Allow the chalk to dry and remove it from the mold.

Note: Never pour the mixture down the sink or drain

Be sure to store your chalk art supplies in a kit for next time. Why not make a special container to keep your chalk, brushes and sponges? Use an empty ice-cream tub and decorate it with stickers, paints and label the lid. Keep it by the door, ready to take next time you head out to the park, the beach or the backyard.

#4: Ask Questions and Learn More

Chalk is made of natural ingredients a bit like sand, which is made of tiny particles/grains. When you add water, the particles separate and scatter. Add more water and they may dissolve into the ground.

Some Final Thoughts

Chalk art can be as simple or as involved as you want to make it. Simple lines of color sometimes make the most amazing transformation with a bit of imagination.

Kids of all ages will love the chance to draw outside and discover how chalk works on different surfaces, to learn about layering and blending colors and how water changes the picture. Best of all, it’s great fun!

What do you think? Has your family tried chalk art? What did you draw? How did the water change it? Please leave a comment or a photo below.

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About the Author, Paula Luke

Paula Luke runs a successful UK marketing consultancy. Previously a journalist, she is mum to two school-aged children who love art and craft. She loves writing and family time outdoors. Other posts by »


  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    I love the idea of changing the original picture with water and making it into something new, over and over again. Thanks, Paula!

  • Paula Luke

    Glad you like the idea Jennifer. It’s such a simple activity but it gives the kids scope to use their imagination. Even better they maybe get wet – often the best bit for my kids especially on a summer’s day!

  • Sophie

    if you wet your hair and run sidewalk chalk down it over and over in one direction, let it dry then flat iron it you can color your hair but still be able to wash it out in one shampoo

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