Earth Day is just a few days away (April 22) so I thought it would be the perfect time to share about some nature- inspired books and a fun and edible activity to make with your kids inspired by one of my favourite children’s authors. We discovered Dianna Hutts Aston’s books at our local library this past Winter and have since added them to our book collection at home. Our favourites include A Butterfly is Patient, A Beetle is Shy, and A Rock is Lively, (this last book was the inspiration for today’s activity). Her books are educational, teaching kids about nature with beautiful illustrations by Sylvia Long- scroll to the end of the post to see photos of these books- and are a great way to get kids interested in animals, bugs, and other elements of nature.
I remember loving the illustrations of agate and other rocks when I came across A Rock is Lively and that I’d love to find a project to go along with it. So I had a scroll through Pinterest and found way too many beautiful agate crafts, but I wanted something that Ari could participate in. Then I came across the idea for making agate lollipops out of hard candy and thought it would be perfect. Ari helped pick out the candy at the grocery store and loved sampling the sweets as I got everything ready. When it came time to making the agate designs she also got to help sprinkle the crushed candy and loved seeing it melt in the oven. While she’s still a little young to understand the finer details of how rocks are made, this would be a great opportunity to teach older kids about different kinds of rocks, what they’re used for, and how they form (Aston’s book is perfect to have on hand for this). I think these turned out great for a first attempt and I’d love to try making them again to perfect the designs a little more. See below for the materials and how- to. How will you teach your kids about Earth Day?
– various hard candy in your choice of colours, plus some white and clear (I also bought gummy candy to try and opted to skip it)
– parchment paper
– baking sheet
– rolling pin or other heavy item to crush candy
– Optional: lollipop sticks (I found mine were too think to make into lollipops, but this would be such a cute idea if you could get yours thick enough)
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and pick out which colours you want to use (tip: look up pictures of agate slices online to help guide your designs)
2. Cut out agate slice shapes from parchment paper cutting them out a little bigger than the size you’d like. Then make 1/2″ snips around the edge and fold up to create a rim around the shape. If you’d like a hole in the middle, poke a hole through the parchment and repeat the process on the inside edge.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your cut outs on top. In case any of the candy melts through your shapes this will protect your baking sheets and make clean up much easier.
4. Line up the candy you want to use between two pieces of parchment paper (mine ended up with some holes from the candy as I crushed it, so maybe double- up the parchment or place inside a ziploc bag to avoid making a sticky mess)
5. When the candy is crushed, sprinkle it in the parchment cutouts in the designs you’d like and bake in an oven for approx 10 minutes or until the candy has all melted. I checked the candy every few minutes to avoid having it discolour/ burn.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool. You can use a wooden skewar to swirl the melted candy to change the designs a little before the candy cools completely
7. Remove from the parchment paper and enjoy!
I found the edges were a little rough on mine, so I’ll snip around the edges a little closer next time to avoid having sharp folds in the paper that led to this. If you try this I’d love to hear how yours turned out!
And here are the 3 books I mentioned at the beginning of the post with photos of my favourite pages, the illustrations are really amazing and colourful. I enjoy reading these books as much as Ari and am hoping to add a few more by Dianna Hutts Aston to our home library later this year. All 3 titles are available through Raincoast Books.