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Family Craft Ideas

with Leah

I'm Leah--wife, mother, editor, writer, photographer, and rickrack apologist. There's craftiness in my DNA, but between the kids and my work and the house and the television and my blogs (http://www.agirlandaboy and http://www.workitmom.com/bloggers/workingonmotherhood, among others), I have to keep my projects quick and easy if I hope to finish them before my boys (born December 2008 and July 2012) graduate from college. You're a working mom and you're busy too, but if you still want to get your craft on, join me here for some fun projects!

Make Your Own Spray Chalk

Categories: activity

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Summer officially starts this Friday, and that means it’s sidewalk chalk season! Just add water to this easy recipe using three common household ingredients and then get ready to spray the day away.

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What you’ll need:

  • spray bottles
  • flour
  • food coloring
  • dish soap
  • water
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    Last year I tried to expand our horizons with a batch of “chalk paint,” and although the effort wasn’t a complete disaster, we only did it once because it just wasn’t that awesome. The paint was goopy, the colors got mixed and muddy, the paintbrush applicators gave us a false sense of being able to create recognizable pictures instead of just big smeary blobs, and clean-up was a pain. This year I had the ingenious idea to use modified chalk paint in a spray bottle, and as with every single one of my ingenious ideas, a quick Google search proved I wasn’t the first person to have thought it. *shakes fist at Internet*

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    There are a bunch of recipes for spray chalk out there, but I like mine because it doesn’t require specialized or expensive ingredients, which means you can mix a batch every morning from now until Labor Day. Even better, you don’t have to mix anything, since the recipe is forgiving enough that kids can make it all by themselves. For maximum help-yourself-ness, fill a lidded bin with the ingredients and measuring cups and spoons, then tape a notecard with the instructions to the inside of the lid.

    Simple Spray Chalk

    –4ish Tablespoons of flour
    –12ish drops of food coloring
    –1/2ish cup of water
    –a quick squeeze of dish soap

    Other recipes I’ve seen use cornstarch instead of flour, and tempera paint instead of food coloring, but those aren’t things I always have around. You can also skip the dish soap if your kids are the type who like to taste everything; I added it because I figured it would help keep the mixture from congealing and turning into glue. This brings up an important point: When you’re done with these for the day, give the bottles a quick rinse and clear out the spray mechanism with clean water to keep everything in good working order.

    We made our spray chalk outside to cut down on the flour mess and because it’s summer and that’s just what you do. I let the four-year-old measure and mix everything, which should give you a good idea of how strict the recipe is (i.e., not at all).

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    A few notes:

    For maximum color saturation, the spray nozzle works better on the Stream setting than Mist, so make sure your bottles have that option. I got mine for $1.30 at Target (in a bin with all the travel-sized beauty products), which is more expensive than bottles three times the size at Home Depot, but easier to hold for little hands (and a cuter shape, because that matters too).

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    Food coloring is non-toxic and washable, but I’d avoid spraying things like cars, bikes, and nice clothes and shoes, just in case. Tell your kids the concrete is their canvas. The color will stay on the sidewalk for weeks in sunny weather, which I hope you have for many months to come. Happy summer!

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