Chalk is a simple and versatile tool you can use to teach children a variety of concepts in math, science, literacy, and other subjects. From having children write their names in chalk on the sidewalk to playing a game of hopscotch math, the learning possibilities are endless! Chalk activities are perfect for the classroom or for families to do together at home during the summer months. Here are four chalk activities to help you get started:
1. Teach Children About the Concept of Mapping
Sidewalk chalk in the same colors as the markers
Using the sidewalk chalk, draw a map on the playground or a driveway. You can include trees (green circles), mountains (purple triangles), fields (brown squares), and a lake (blue oval).
Draw a legend on the poster board using the same colors and shapes.
What to Do:
Read a book about maps, such as one of the books in our Let’s Map It! Book Set, with children.
Discuss how maps picture the landscape. They can show streets and houses or mountains, lakes, and streams.
Ask the children what they see drawn on the pavement. What do they think the various shapes represent?
Now show children the legend. Point to the green circles. Can they find the trees on the map? As a group or individually, have the children locate and stand on the various features.
Discuss what else could be included on the map and how it should be represented.
2. Create Friendly Wild Things
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Colored sidewalk chalk
Black construction paper (optional)
What to Do:
Read Where the Wild Things Are to the children.
Show the illustrations to the children again and ask them what they notice about the wild things. If they don’t mention it, point out that they wild things have smiles and are happy and eager to play.
Encourage them to describe the wild things.
Invite the children to design their own wild thing using colored chalk on a sidewalk or on black paper.
Encourage them to blend chalk colors, or leave the lines dark for a brighter look. They may want to use a tissue or their fingers to blend colors together.
Ask children to come up with a story that goes along with their chalk drawing.
3. Make a Sidewalk Number Line
What to Do:
As the children watch, write the numerals from 1 to 10 on the sidewalk. Put one numeral in each sidewalk square. If the squares aren’t uniform, divide the sidewalk evenly with a chalk line.
Demonstrate moving on the number line. Stand on the numeral 4, for example, then move two forward and end up on the numeral 6.
Ask a child to stand on that numeral. Then ask him or her, “Where are you?” The child and the other children will answer, “Six!”
Give various directions, such as, “Take four steps backward.”
All the children count with the child on the number line as he or she walks or jumps four steps backward. Ask him or her, “Where are you?” The child and the other children will answer, “Two!”
Give the child another direction, such as, “Take three steps forward. Where are you?” Continue with another child.
Sing this song to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” Oh, I am on the number line, the number line, the number line. Oh, I am on the number line, moving up and down. I like to count on the number line, the number line, the number line. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
4. Track Changing Shadows
This activity will be completed over time during the day; plan your schedule accordingly.
Locate a large area on a sidewalk or the blacktop that receives full sun throughout the day.
What to Do:
Point out their shadows to the children.
Ask the children if they know what makes a shadow. Explain that when we stand in the way of the sun’s rays, we cast a shadow. As the sun moves throughout the day, our shadows move, too.
Ask one child to stand feet together on the sidewalk. (If necessary, reposition the child so his or her shadow is totally on the sidewalk.) Trace around the child’s shoes with chalk. Draw a line at the top of the child’s shadow. Write the child’s name and the time on the line and his or her name on the shoe tracing.
Invite other children to have their feet outlined, to help draw around the feet, and to mark lines at the top of the shadows. Label each shoe tracing with the child’s name and each line with both the name and the time.
After an hour, come back to the shadows. Ask the children to stand on their feet outlines. Ask, “What has happened to your shadow?” (The children may explain that the shadow shortened, got smaller, lengthened, grew, or changed direction.) Mark a new line and label it.
Continue this process throughout the day. Shadows will shorten during the morning hours, nearly disappear at noon, and lengthen in the afternoon.