Making stepping stones with kids is a fun way to add something personal and pretty to your yard.
It does require some pre-planning and staying organized on your part though. The last time I made stepping stones was when we moved into our old house, so I was making them with four kids at once. That was a bit crazy, but still manageable. Sola and I had more fun making stepping stones together for this house though, as I got to participate with her in the process, as opposed to just be a guardian against chaos. While stepping stone kits used to be really nice when my other kids were young, I found that most kits these days are for really small stepping stones, so I don’t recommend using kits.
To make stepping stones you will need:
- Outdoor cement (also called mosaic cement or quick drying cement) – we used 5 lbs of cement for each 12″ round stepping stone (supposedly you can buy this in bulk at the hardware store)
- Bucket (5 gallon)
- Stirring stick
- Safety goggles, gloves, and dust mask
- Measuring cup
- Newspaper or drop cloth
- Stepping Stone Molds (12″ is a good size if you want people to actually use them)
- Vaseline or cooking oil (optional???)
- Mosaic materials – glass, ceramic tiles, gems, shells, rocks, sea glass, etc.
- Protect your work area. This project should be done outside, but even then it is best if you lay a drop cloth or newspaper where you are going to work.
- Set out all your supplies. Set out the stepping stone molds and all mosaic supplies and have them ready to go as the cement dries fairly quickly.
- Optional. I had no problem with getting our cement out of our molds multiple times, but other people online recommend coating the molds with a layer of cooking oil or Vaseline to prevent sticking.
- Optional. Depending on the age of your kids, you might want to have them plan their design before you mix the cement. At age 8, Sola did not have much patience for this step, so we just winged it.
- Gear up. You should wear safety goggles, a dust mask, and gloves when mixing cement. You especially don’t want the cement dust getting into your eyes or mouth. Also, keep the kids away from this part, they can help stir once the dust is settled.
- Mix your cement according to packaging directions. I used two different brands of cement and in both cases, I found that the directions included with the cement created cement that was a bit too watery. If it is too watery, the mosaic pieces kind of sink and when the water evaporated, it left a white film on the mosaic pieces. I found that the best ratio to start with was 4 1/2 cups of water for 10 pounds of cement. I then increased the water by 2 ounces at a time, as needed, until I got a water:cement ratio that I liked. You don’t want any chunks of cement, but are going for a mud texture.
- Pour your cement. Pour the cement in to the molds. Then kind of shift/gently shake the molds side-to-side to get the cement to be nice and smooth on the top.
- Add mosaic pieces to cement. In general, you want to lay them flat on the cement so that they don’t sink as much (surface tension will keep them up if they have greater area. Spontaneous homeschool science lesson anyone?). Make sure no sharp corners will be poking out of the cement, which would hurt to step on.
- Allow stone to set for 24 hours before removing. I just kind of pushed the edges of the mold outwards while holding the stones upside down and the stones popped right out.
- Allow the stones to cure for 24-28 hours before setting them outside.
Turning Things Over to You
Have you ever made a stepping stone? If you haven’t, you should try it. It is fun once you get the routine down.