Sand; 4 cups plus more water; small objects like shells, driftwood, leaves, and bottle caps; bucket ; 6 cups Plaster of Paris; paint stick or wooden spoon; short length of wire (optional); paintbrush and acrylic paint (optional); clear acrylic spray (optional)
This is a great activity and could be done at the beach -- you'll just need to include at least 30 minutes in your time for everything to harden and make sure you have access to fresh water! Dig a hole about 12 inches square and about 6 inches deep in the sand. Wet the sides of the hole well. Press objects in the sides and bottom of the hole. You can remove the objects (if you want to keep them) leaving an impression, or you can leave the objects in the sand. (Note: objects left in the sand make depressions in the plaster....Impressions in the sand make raised areas in the plaster). You can also build sand formations or make depressions in a sand pile in the hole. Pour 4 cups of water into the bucket. Sprinkle the Plaster of Paris over the water and stir the mixture until it's about as thick as pea soup. Pour plaster in the sand mold and wait for it to harden, about 30 minutes. If you'd like to be able to hang your sculpture, stick a small wire loop into the plaster before it hardens. Carefully remove the plaster from the sand mold. Brush away any excess sand. If you like, have your child paint the plaster with acrylic paints. Then spray the plaster with clear acrylic spray to preserve the color.