Sidewalk chalk is pretty cool, but it’s got nothing on ice chalk for real summer fun. For days when the sun is really scorching, ice chalk is a cool way to chill out and let the little ones express themselves outdoors. This is an easy DIY project, which takes just a few minutes to make ahead and pop into the freezer overnight, so you'll be all ready to head outside in the morning when the sun heats up the sidewalk. As a bonus, the chalk acts a bit like a natural timer. Because the chalk melts as you draw with it, there is only so much art to be had before your chalk has returned to its liquid state. This is pretty helpful if you have kids who insist on staying out in the sun when it's high time to head indoors.
Read on to learn how to make a basic ice chalk recipe with three variations: scented, foaming, and treasures - for endless outdoor art this summer!
Basic ice chalk recipe
- half cornstarch
- half water
- washable paint
Whisk together, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze for several hours (ideally overnight).
How much? Good question. It depends on the volume of your molds, so a little math is necessary to figure out your exact quantities. You’ll need to mix up each individual ice chalk pop separately, in order to make them each a different color, so keep that in mind as you read about what I did.
I filled one popsicle mold with water and poured it into a glass measuring cup to determine it holds slightly less than ? cup of liquid. I know I’ll need around 1 Tbsp of washable paint for each pop, so I need to shoot for a total of around ¼ cup of “other stuff.” Since it’s divided 50/50 cornstarch and water, that’s 2 Tbsp each. I mix them in a stainless steel or glass bowl with a whisk, then pour into my molds. Voila!
Popsicle molds make the best ice chalk, because it comes with a built-in handle, but you can use an ice cube tray, silicone molds, or even a muffin tin. It all depends on what shape you want your ice chalk to have, and what your kids are capable of working with.
Variation #1: Sweet-smelling sidewalk art
Making scented ice chalk is an unexpected variation, and great for older kids who have a keen sense of smell! Use sugar-free drink mixes to add scent and color to your ice pops, either by replacing the washable paint or pairing it with a similar color paint. We don’t use these kinds of drink mixes for beverages around our house, but I found these small boxes of individual packets at the dollar store in a variety of colors. Using a sugar-free drink mix here is super important, unless you want to attract ants and other creepy-crawlies to your sidewalk art party!
Variation #2: Fizzy foamy colors
Mix up your ice chalk pops using the basic recipe, but substitute HALF of the cornstarch with baking soda. Ice chalk made with this variation won’t fizz on its own, though. It’ll need a little help from baking soda’s good friend (or foe) white vinegar. Bringing those two foam creators together can be done in a variety of ways.
When it’s time for the ice chalk to hit the pavement, bring along a squirt or spray bottle full of distilled white vinegar. Your kiddos can draw with their chalk, and then use the vinegar on the chalk lines to make it foam. Alternatively, spray down the sidewalk with vinegar before the art party begins, and let the kids use their fizzy ice chalk to draw on the wet surface for a more subtle foaming effect.
Variation #3: Art supplies with a prize inside
This is perhaps my personal favorite of all the ice chalk recipes, because my little artist loves finding a new toy to play with once the chalk pops have melted away. Any ice chalk recipe can be used for the treasure variation. I made mine with the basic recipe but the fizzing option could be used for an exciting reveal. I add small treasures to the ice molds before pouring in the mixture. This works best with tiny plastic toys and ice cube trays or silicone molds, but anything will work if it’s small enough. I love these tiny plastic lizards that I found at the dollar store (there were eight or so in a pack, and I can reuse them!). Once the fun of playing with the ice chalk has worn off, your little one will have a new toy to play with – until it’s time to make more ice chalk, of course.
Images via Cat DiStasio for Inhabitots