Plaster of Paris is readily available in craft stores. It is fun to use for craft projects but children do need to be supervised by an adult when working with plaster of Paris. An adult should prepare the plaster while wearing gloves and everyone must be careful not to breathe in the dust from the plaster while it is in powder form. Don’t pour plaster down your drain.
Latex medical gloves and rubber gloves are perfect moulds for making plaster of Paris hands. This project calls for more than one pair of hands-one to hold the glove open at the cuff while another pours in liquid plaster of Paris. Leave at least a few inches of room at the top of the glove and seal the cuff with a rubber band. Tie the glove securely and hang it up so that the hand-shape can dry without being distorted. When dry, remove the glove and paint the plaster hand. It makes a whimsical jewellery holder or a cool homemade ornament.
It is easy to make your own sidewalk chalk using plaster of Paris and poster paint. If children help to make their own sidewalk chalk they will find it much more fun to play with than store-bought chalk. An adult should mix the plaster to a paste-like consistency. Children can pour in their choice of poster paints. Use one colour and stir thoroughly for a solid coloured chalk, or swirl different paint colours into the plaster and just give it a quick stir for multicoloured chalk. Pour the mixture into small paper cups or ice trays and pop out the chalks after about an hour. They will need another 24 hours to dry completely.
Plaster of Paris is great for making imprints. Use old bowls, plastic tubs or something similar to fill with liquid plaster of Paris. While the plaster is still wet, press an object into its surface. This could be a hand or foot, leaves and twigs, fruits or any other item that can get messy without being ruined. This is a good project for allowing children to experiment with different shapes and textures. Remove the object from the plaster and the imprint should remain intact while it dries. Remove the plaster from the container when it is dry and paint it. Paint the imprint a different colour to highlight it. Children's hand and footprints make lovely keepsakes.