This year for Mother’s Day my son and I decided to make garden stepping stones for the grandmothers. This is a fun project that can be really easy, and you may have the materials on hand already. We happened to already have two stepping stone kits that were received as gifts. They each included an 8 inch plastic tray/mold, quick mix cement, and gems for decorating. I also purchases a cement refill kit at AC Moore to make two more stones using the molds we have, along with a bag of glass pebbles. A little research online led me to discover that a cardboard box, such as a cereal box or small pizza box, can be used as a mold instead of a purchased one. Also, if you happen to have a bag of quick dry cement on hand left over from a project, that would work great. It is probably less costly to go to a local home DIY store to purchase a bag of cement than the craft store. For decorations in your stepping stone, besides glass pebbles, seashells, glitter, or even colored gravel would look great. Whatever is used has to be waterproof. A wooden stick can be used to carve details, such as a name, date or design. Supplies:For simplicity, a pre-assembled kit can be purchased at your local craft store. Here is a list of things you need instead of a kit:
- Box or plastic mold, approximately 8 x 8 inches or an 8 inch round shape
- wood paint stirrer
- plastic bucket
- measuring cup
- small wood stick, such as a Popsicle stick
- quick drying cement (approximately 4 pounds makes one 8 inch stone)
- glass pebbles, small pebbles/stones, seashells, glitter, gravel
- tray, such as an old cookie sheet with a rim
- paper towels
Directions: for one 8 inch stone It is best to do this project outdoors. The stepping stones need to set for at least 24 hours. I used a rimmed cookie sheet to hold the mold so that I could bring it inside to cure because rain was in the forecast. It also helped with clean up. For an adult only: In a bucket carefully pour the dry cement powder into the bottom. Be careful to not inhale the cement dust, and wear a painters mask if possible. Add one cup of water and using the paint stirrer, mix the water into the cement mix until completely blended and resembling brownie batter. Add one tablespoon of water at a time if needed to get the right consistency.
Pour the wet cement mixture into the mold and smooth the surface of the cement with the wood stirrer or a Spackle knife. Your child might like to help with this part! If you notice that water pools on the surface of your cement, lay paper towels on the surface to absorb the extra water before decorating. We made two stones, one was fine, the other seemed really wet, so the paper towels really helped.
Decorate the stone: If adding a hand print, do it first. Have your child flatten out their hand and spread their fingers, sink their hand into the cement and then carefully pull it out straight up. Wash hands under the garden hose. Use a Popsicle stick to write names or add designs. Then add pebbles or shells and be sure to sink them into the stone, about half way. If they get a bit of extra cement on them, they can be cleaned off after about 12 hours, before the cement is completely cured. Add glitter, if desired. (Note: I noticed that the craft store, AC Moore, sold letter stamps for making stepping stones. They would make it much easier to write a name or a message into the cement. They cost approximately $9, so if you think you might be making a number of stones, they might be worth the investment. I sort of wish I bought them!) Leave the mold out undisturbed for at least 24 hours. The cement dries based upon humidity, so give it more time if needed. Once unmolded, the stone needs to continue to cure. It will be ready to be stepped on after two weeks. If you are giving it as a gift before two weeks is up, include a note with the date of when the recipient can add it to their garden! Happy Mother’s Day! You can find more adventures with a preschooler on Diane’s blog, Knitting Zeal.