DIY Stepping Stones With the Kids
Make a craft with your kids that can last a lifetime with these easy tips.
By: Ruth Soukup
Few DIY projects are as practical, useful and kid-friendly as handmade garden stepping stones. Even better, they are also incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. Give them as gifts or keep them as a permanent — and beautiful — record of your kids’ tiny hands and feet. (After all, they only stay small for a little while.)
- Plastic stepping stone mold: You can find this in a wide variety of shapes at any craft supply store or online for less than $5. In a pinch, try using a disposable saucer for a large planter, an old cake pan or even an old cereal box. You will need one mold for each child.
- Quick-setting concrete: The most cost-effective option (by far) is to purchase a standard 50-pound bag of quick-set concrete for about $4 at your local hardware or home improvement supply store. This size bag will make between six and 10 stones, depending on the size of your mold. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to make only one stone, you can purchase an 8-pound box of stepping stone mix from the craft supply store for around $5.
- Embellishments: Depending on your child’s age and ability, use stones, mosaic tiles or glass beads. (See additional ideas below.)
- Old bucket
- Old spoon or paint mixer
- Nonstick cooking spray or petroleum jelly
- Rubber gloves
- Old newspaper or drop cloth
Creative Embellishment Ideas
- Use vintage game pieces and small toys such as dice, dominos, marbles, Army men, or old board game place markers to create a colorful playtime-themed stone.
- Collect a variety of colorful soda bottle caps, and use them to create a rainbow pattern in the concrete.
- Use Scrabble tiles to spell a name, short quote or other sentiment.
- Create a yin-yang pattern using small smooth river rocks in contrasting light and dark colors.
- Smash up a few colorful mismatched dishes or decorative tiles, then create an interesting mosaic from the pieces.
- Design flowers and dragonflies from pieces of colorful sea glass or glass beads.
- Create your own rock “footprints” within the concrete by placing five small round stones above a large oval stone.
- This is definitely a project that is best done outdoors. Protect your deck, driveway or lawn from stray lumps of concrete by spreading old newspaper or a thick drop cloth over a large work area. Be sure also to dress your kids in their oldest, most beat-up play clothes, just in case.
- Fill mold with a heaping pile of concrete mix to determine how much you will need to mix. Pour the concrete mix into your bucket.
- Coat mold with cooking spray or petroleum jelly to prevent the concrete from sticking after it dries.
- Mix water into concrete mix, a small amount at a time, until it resembles the consistency of sour cream or very thick cake batter.
- Spoon or pour your mixed concrete into the mold and spread it smooth. If your mold is sturdy enough, carefully lift the stone and tap it gently a few times (as you would a cake) to help smooth the surface and release any hidden air bubbles. Your stone is now ready to decorate!
- Let your kids personalize the surface of their stone with handprints, their names or various other embellishments. Kids 4 years old and up should be able to handle this step of the project without too much assistance from you. Wet concrete is surprisingly easy to work with, and any “mistakes” can be easily corrected and re-worked.
- Once your child is satisfied with his or her creation, let the stone dry in a safe, covered spot overnight. Once the stone is completely dry, carefully pop it out of the mold and let it cure another 5 to 7 days before using it as a stepping stone.
What better way to create an object with true meaning than to have your kids do it with you?