Chalk Pastel Watercolors

Playful Learning: Chalk Pastel Watercolors

Today Annie from Bird and Little Bird shares a  great idea for expanding our children’s repertoire of  painting experiences. She is also sharing more of her simply inspiring ideas today over at her online Magazine, Alphabet Glue as she releases Volume Eight. I already see a couple activities that my girls would love!

Over the last couple of years, my daughter has really begun to enjoy using watercolors more and more in her artwork. As a result, we’ve experimented with everything from watercolor pencils to the more expensive tubes of watercolor concentrate often used by more experienced artists. We’ve found that we both really enjoy the soft colors of the watercolor washes mixed in jars that are found in Waldorf-inspired schools and art programs, but our local toy shop only stocks the materials for making those washes in a few colors and honestly, they smell terrible when left to sit for any length of time. So, we decided to see if we could get a similar effect using materials that we already had on our art supply shelf at home. It turns out that crushed chalk pastels make wonderful watercolor washes and that it is easy to create them in a variety of colors with minimal effort. Read on to find out how!


  • Chalk pastels in a variety of colors (make sure that they are chalk and not oil!)
  • Mortar and pestle (or another way of crushing up the pastels)
  • Small, clean jars or containers with tight fitting lids
  • Water

To begin, set out your materials and choose a color of pastel to make into paint. Break off a piece of pastel about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long.

 Playful Learning: Chalk Pastel Watercolors

Using the mortar and pestle, crush the pastel bit into a fine powder. Although the mortar and pestle is good fun here, you really don’t need it. Something like a rubber mallet and a plastic bag would work equally well, even if it seems somewhat less elegant.

Playful Learning: Chalk Pastel Watercolors

Put the pastel powder into the jar and add water to fill the jar about 3/4 full. Screw on the lid and shake well until the powder is dissolved into the water.

Playful Learning: Chalk Pastel Watercolors

And, that’s it! Make as many colors as you like and then get busy with the painting portion of the program. I think these subtle colors look particularly nice on thick watercolor paper or on pictures that have been drawn in with dark colored marker or crayons.

Playful Learning: Chalk Pastel Watercolors



Annie Riechmann is an educator, blogger and mama to two small people who lives in the Burlington, Vermont area. Annie is also the creator and publisher of Alphabet Glue, a literacy themed e-magazine for families, and is an associate editor for Rhythm of the Home. She is an unapologetic lover of striped knee socks, avocados, and field guides, and wishes that she was better at flying kites. You can check in with Annie at her blog, Bird and Little Bird, where she writes about everything from books and babies, to laundering snow pants.



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