I’ve made paint

Walking outside to investigate a suspicious silence, I stepped into the verandah to be met with a eureka-like ‘Dad.  I’ve made paint!’  There he stood with a bucket and paintbrush.  One of the trees, a fair few of the verandah posts, some patches of wall, and quite a lot of the deck were covered in a kaleidoscope of chalk.

A little part of me wanted to start screaming right then.  The look of elation on his face, though, coupled with the obviously focused intent which had gone into all of this, demanded a closer inspection.


‘Science experiments’ have been a fairly large part of play in the last year or so.  Ever since seeing what happened when bicarb soda was mixed with vinegar, they have been a recurring theme.

The basic idea is to get a container of some description, put some kind of liquid in it, and then add things.  Containers can be everything from a bucket, through various kitchen bowls, to small glass bottles, bought specifically to try and contain the game.  Water makes a pretty good solvent, but obviously vinegar of any kind is highly prized, milk is not too bad, and even things like soy sauce and honey have been tested.

As for what you are trying to dissolve in it, the list is exhaustive.  Coffee grounds, road gravel, custard powder, detergent, bicarb soda or any white powder which might resemble it, rice, food dye, lavender leaves, flour, wool, etc, etc.  Although choices for this sort of thing are becoming increasingly refined, they are broadly determined by how much attention the grown ups are paying.  Because of their easy availability once the household is awake, buckets of water are a good first choice.


Here is how you make paint.  Take a big chunk of sidewalk chalk, and one of dad’s hammers.  Put the chalk on the concrete slab, and then break it into small pieces.  Tip them into the bucket.  The chalk will start to dissipate in the water.  Any that doesn’t, just use the hammer to grind it into smaller pieces.  Once you are satisfied with this, get yourself a paintbrush.  Don’t mess about with anything from the craft box.  Make it a big house brush.  Use the brush to stir it all up into a real good suspension, then paint stuff with it.

For some variation on a theme, you can make a puddle of water in one of the dips in the concrete (it’s not a very well laid slab), and grind the chalk directly into it.  You don’t get to use the paintbrush here, but you do get a bright red puddle, and that’s worth something.

Truth is, chalk paint works pretty well.  It sticks onto most surfaces, and once it dries, it leaves a good, thick layer of colour.  It doesn’t even come off very easily.  You really have to scrub it off with a broom while hosing it.

How to make paint

He has watched us making watercolours by adding food dye to water.  He knows that tea and coffee are produced by mixing ground up plant material in hot water.  He has helped us use the mortar and pestle in the kitchen.  He has taken concepts from all of these disparate ideas, put them into a different context, developed a theory, and after a lengthy period of experimentation, was enjoying the fruits of a success.

In the face of such passionate and rigorous scientific inquiry, I would be a fool indeed to fuss over a few chalk marks.

About Blokeschool

I am a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, so I feel compelled to write it all down. In my spare time, I work as a manager for the local health district, drink too much coffee, and am an overenthusiastic martial artist.
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7 Responses to I’ve made paint

  1. ksawrites says:

    I bet he would love sidewalk paint: 2 T corn starch; 4 T water and a little food coloring. When it dries it’s really vibrant. My kids love it. They are scientists too 😉

  2. Jacquie says:

    How funny! This past summer my 9 year old daughter decided it would be great fun to paint the tree in our front yard, but she used acrylic paint so it’s staying put for a while. It makes me laugh now when I see it but that was not my initial reaction. My kids love to paint so we will definitely have to make our own as soon as we get some milder weather!

  3. Zee says:

    Good on you for allowing your kids to be inquisitive! When he was little, my brother would do similar ‘science experiments’, with water being the main solvent, and anything else being fair game. We’d find bottles, bowls, and little dishes of foul-coloured (and often foul-smelling) liquids in the strangest places.

    • Blokeschool says:

      I totally get the idea with scent. A couple of times I have been invited to try ‘my beautiful new perfume,’ only to be led to a bottle of some unrecognisable month old fermentation. Nasty.

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