Stepping Stones October 3-7 Purpose:To decorate our gardens and learn how to decorate your own garden. Supplies:The main supplies you need to make a stepping stone are a mold, cement, screen/hardware cloth and items to decorate or embellish it. You should also always use protective eyewear and gloves when working with dry concrete mix as it can burn (once mixed it will not burn). If any gets on bare skin, wash immediately with warm, soapy water. ProcedureDeciding what design to make is the hardest part of making these stepping stones. However, you need to do this before you start so you know what supplies to gather. You may bring your own decorations (shells, marbles,stones,etc.) or use the stones we provide. Gather all your supplies and then you are ready to begin! Follow these simple steps and also refer to the suggestions on the supply page and hints and tips pages. 1. The first thing you should do is to protect your work surface and yourself. Lay down some newspaper You can make these outside in a location you can let sit for a few days! Sets best it not directly in sun while first drying. I would suggest doing it in the edible garden. Wear eye protection and gloves. An old long sleeve shirt and sweatpants would also be a great idea. 2. Set your mold on your work surface. 3. Now, you are ready to mix up the concrete. . You may want to mix the concrete prior to getting the children. Mix 5 parts concrete to 1 part water. The wet mixture should have the consistency of soft cookie dough. If you plan to mix it prior to your garden session, you may want to add a little more water so you can have more time to work with it. 4. Once your concrete is mixed, you can start spooning it into the mold. The children can help with this. Fill the mold about half full and smooth it down. Lay your cut piece of screening or hardware cloth (as explained on the supplies page) into the mold and then finish scooping the cement into the mold until full. 5. Gently tap around the outside of your mold to help remove any air bubbles and also to help even out the top. 6. Once the cement has been given some time to set up, you can start decorating it. Use the decorating/embellishment from home or provided in the garden shed. If you make a mistake, you can simply remove the items, flatten out the top with the side of a popsicle stick or spoon, tap the sides to smooth, and start over again! 7. Your stepping stone must now sit for 2 - 3 days without being disturbed - do not move it. Once it is dry, you can gently pop it out of the mold. Voila! 8. We will wait another week before using them to step on.. When you place the stones outside they should not be raised above ground more than about 1/2-inch so people don't trip on them and also so the stone doesn't break. Here are some tips and hints that can help you while you make your stepping stones. If you have a tip or helpful hint to share, please feel free to post it for all to enjoy. Some of these tips have been said already, but they are worth repeating. Read on and have fun making your stepping stones! • Your stepping stones should be at least 2 inches thick. • For best results, let your stepping stones set in the mold for 3 days. Allow the stones to cure for a week before placing them outside or stepping on them. • When gathering items for embellishing your stepping stones, steer clear of wooden items because they don't stick into the concrete very well. • Get creative with your embellishments! Try seashells, marbles, beach glass, mosaic tiles, buttons, and mementos of any sort. • Your cement should be the consistency of cookie dough. You want to have to scoop it into your mold, not pour it. • When you place the stones in your garden they should not be raised above ground more than about 1/2-inch for risk of people tripping and falling and also so the stone doesn't break. • Once the cement is poured into the mold, do not move it! This can cause cracking • If you make a mistake, you can simply remove the items, flatten out the top with the side of a popsicle stick or spoon, tap the sides to smooth, and start over again!