Maddy, Cora, and I have always wanted to beautify our garden and flower beds with the pretty statues and mosaics we see at our local garden centers, but quite frankly, they’re just not in our budget.
How can those tiny little things cost so much money? We now know–they’re not all that easy to make.
They take time. They take planning.
But boy! are they nice once they’re finished–
I thought that since this week the focus of the Smart Summer Challenge is Backyard Science, it would be a great time to play with the science of concrete and beautiful gems–and decorate our garden a bit. Our garden stepping stones and decorations were a bit (okay, verrrrrry) messy to make, and they required some advance planning and quick moves on our part, but we’re pretty happy with how they turned out.
Actually, we’re incredibly happy with how they turned out.
Here’s the skinny on our garden stepping stone decorations. . .
our stepping stone supplies
- Garden Stepping Stones and Decorations: Though tons of mosaic sets are out there on the market to get you started with garden stepping stones, you really don’t need one.
All you need is some quick-drying concrete that you can find at any hardware store, some gems (like the ones we use for our Gem Jars), mosaic tiles (found at craft stores), and popsicle sticks for carving. We also used glitter because, well, everything is so much more beautiful when it really sparkles in the sunshine.
The most important step in our garden stepping stone making was preparing our space. We covered our patio table with a ton of newpaper, grabbed some plastic gloves, quick-drying concrete mix, cold water, and placed all of our supplies on the table.
I gathered some paper coffee cups (to use as molds for some small stone decorations), plastic lids from cool whip and margarine containers (molds for larger decorations), plastic plates, lids from peanut butter containers (also to use as molds), some small mosaics, gems, glitter, and popsicle sticks.
Maddy tears away the coffee cup to check out her first mini-garden stepping stone!
I mixed the first batch of concrete, and it was dusty and seriously messy. Even with gloves on, I felt like there was concrete dust everywhere, but the kids were crazy excited and ready to do some creating!
Maddy, Owen, and Cora were already prepared with a few fancy items as I was mixing, and our first attempt was going to be small–I filled a coffee cup about halfway with concrete, and they quickly beautified them before the concrete dried. But it was tricky. I added just enough water according to the directions, but I needed to add more in order to give the kids a little more leeway and time to decorate.
Maddy was moving slowly, so she pretty much freaked out when only a few of her gems actually stuck, but she was determined to be more ready–and move more quickly–the next time. And she was.
Actually, we all were.
With a little more water and a lot more preparation as far as design idea, the second batch went more smoothly. I didn’t take the time to have the kids actually draw their designs–it was hot, they were hungry, and I knew it would take a lot longer. But it is an option for next time.
Cora really loads on her decorations–and why wouldn’t she?
I found that the larger, more flat stepping stones were the easiest to decorate–and the most fun–because the kids could use sticks to carve out letters and words.
But we really did need to move fast. Even with a little extra water added, the concrete was true to its name–it was so quick to dry, it took us by surprise.
We added gems galore, and we kept our words and shapes simple.
As soon as we were finished with three batches of stepping stones, we cleaned up shop and let everything dry. Though I thought we’d be able to remove the concrete from the peanut butter lids, we couldn’t–so they stayed put and went right into the garden that way.
The stepping stones on plates, however, popped out easily and made for nice stones when finished.
We love how our garden stepping stones and decorations turned out!
Cora holds the ‘I love M, O, C’ stone–and of course she’s wearing a tu-tu.
And that’s about it–by the time dinner rolled around, our stones were ready for placement in our garden, and it was awesome to finally have a little bling for our beds.
So the kids learned first-hand about the challenges of working with concrete. But more importantly, they learned how important it is to try and try and try and try again–and how hard work and a little bit of effort can really pay off.
And now we all know why those garden-center decorations are so pricey!
Want a few more fun gifts to give for Mother’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Day?
- flower pens
- teacher appreciation gifts
- finger print note cards
- garden stones
- butterfly pens
- give the gift of words
- mother’s day ticket book
- best books as gifts
- gifts that give back
- happy flowers
- quick thank you for teachers
- wooden thank you tray
- father’s day gifts
Or follow these two pinterest boards: