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Floating Chalk Prints

In this activity, students create unique artwork using paper and finely grated chalk floating on top of water, and observe the effects of absorption and evaporation

Your students may have used chalk to make art before, although probably not in this way!

While creating their chalky masterpieces, students explore how the dry chalk and wet water interact with each other, and observe the effects of absorption and evaporation as the water on their artwork dries.

Questions about floating and sinking may also arise!

This is a great activity to do as a station, as it does require one pan or tray per student. You may want to set up a station with two or three pans and have the children take turns.

Wet and Dry Printable guide.

These activities are part of Science World's Big Science For Little Hands program. They were developed and tested with preschool and kindergarten educators.

Objectives

  • Create artwork by sprinkling grated chalk on water, in a design of their choice, while observing the chalk floating.

  • Observe the effects of absorption and evaporation as their artwork dries.

Materials

  • Per Class or Group:
    a cheese grater and/or a hammer and two plastic baggies (in addition to grating the chalk – you can smash it!)

  • Per Student:
    several different colours of grated chalk
    baking pan or tray
    water
    cardstock or other thick paper
    popsicle sticks or wooden stir sticks (optional extension)

Key Questions

  • Does your artwork look different when it is dry? How does it look different?
  • Did the chalk float or sink in the water?
  • Did the chalk get wet?
  • Do you think a stick of chalk would have floated on the water? (Try it!)

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Choose chalk of various colours. Grate the chalk into very fine pieces, so you have ‘chalk powder’. Sprinkle some on water to test if it floats. If not, you may want to place the chalk into a plastic baggie, place that baggie into a second one (in case of holes), and hammer it into a finer powder.
  2. Put the chalk into small containers.
  3. Fill the pans with enough water that the bottoms are covered.

Activity

  1. Sprinkle chalk on top of the water in your pan, in any design you like.
  2. Carefully float a piece of paper on top of the water then carefully peel it off.
  3. Keep an eye on your artwork as it dries.

Extensions

  • Try doing a few prints without adding more chalk. How do the prints change?
  • Give students something to stir the chalk designs. What happens to the chalk? Make some new prints!
  • Instead of floating the paper on top of the water, dunk it underwater, then have a look. Does it look different from your floating chalk print? How does it look different?