DIY Stepping-stones with the Kids
Enlist your kids' help to create a personalized, beautiful piece of garden art that will last a lifetime.
Few DIY projects are as useful and kid-friendly as handmade garden stepping-stones. Give them as gifts or keep them as a permanent – and beautiful – record of your kids’ hands and feet. Kids of any age will love the excuse to get their hands dirty.
Chances are, once you start, you won’t want to stop!
- 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: Purchase a standard 50-pound bag of quick-set concrete 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 only want to make one stone, you can purchase an 8-pound box of stepping-stone mix from a craft supply store
- 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
- This is definitely a project 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. Make sure 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. Refer to the instructions on your concrete mix for further details
- 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 reworked
- 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
Creative Embellishment Ideas
- Use vintage game pieces and small toys such as dice, dominos, marbles, plastic figurines, 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 lettered 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
- 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
What better way to create an object with true meaning than to have your kids make it with you?