Student Work Project
Stepping Stones

Here is a simple instructional method for making stepping stones.  They are great decor for landscaping and the garden.  Working with students, some with cognative difficulties, I've broken part of the assembly process into small steps.

Selection of Stone - We visited Wal-Mart, Home Dpot, Lowes and other landscape suppliers to find varieties of concrete stone / bricks.

Finished Product

 Materials List

My favorite tool to the right is used to break tile - cleanly with precise direction.

Materials for this simple stepping stone include: small brick, four 2" by 2" tiles, rock hammer, gallon freezer bags, popsicle sticks, adhesive, grout, weight scale, sponge, measuring cups and a metal spade.

Step One - Selection of Materials - Any size stone or brick can be used.  My preference is to find a good supply of the same version of rock.  When making one or two, it is easier to make a mass quality.  Select material based upon availablity and cost.  Heavier bricks simply make even heavier stepping stones.  It is easy to become ambitious but remember - "You still have to carry them home."  If extra contrete is available, consider making stones from your own molds.

Step Two - create your own mosaic tile pieces.  In this exercise, the four tiles are placed in a gallon-size zip lock bag.  Use a pointed rock hammer to ping the tiles to break the squares into smaller pieces.

As a work station, we used science tables as a surface (heavy solid top).  Individuals then break numerous tile in preparation for sorting.  This was a fun part of the project. 

Consider using a railroad spike or chisel to make more precise breaks in the tile.  Be careful not to make powder.  Break piece size based upon the size of the brick or pot used in future steps.

Step Three - Identifying the Pieces - Notice that the tiles can be separated into three types of shapes - corners, those with sides and mosaic pieces the rough edges on all sides.

In this exercise, students are sorting the three types of broken tile.  We collected box flats from Sam's and Costco which were used as bins for sorting the three types of tile.  Each box was labeled for easy identification - flat, corner and mosaic.  We suggest getting serveral boxes before beginning.  This is a cheap material for organization.

Step Four - Adhesive - For this project, a ready-to-use adhesive was used.  Designed for stone and tile - mold / mildew resistant.  This item, purchased at Lowes, was found to be the best and easiest for my students.  Liquid nail, for example, did not adhere and was considerably messy.  My students could open and close this product with ease - multiple times. 

Step Five - Attach decorative stones - We found it easier to attach the decorative stone before adding the tile.  When making a large number of bricks, we used the same pattern for the majority of our stepping stones.  For example, each student selected one large decor stone and two smaller ones.  These items can be commonly found at a local dollar store - sold in small bags of about 15 in total.

Step Six - Add Corner Tiles - Add the four corner tiles.  Of the three different sorted shaps of tiles, this will be the first attached to the brick.  Notice that we are using a large popsicle stick to paste the glue to the back of the tile.

Step Seven - Add Side Tiles - Allign smooth tile pieces flush with the edge of the brick.  Space each tile about 1/8 to 1/4 inch between each tile and the decorative stones.

Step Eight - Add Inside Tile Mosaics - Once the mosaic tiles are added to the inside of the brick, a nice visual can be recognized.  This phase is like a jig-saw puzzle.  Find and place mosaics within the center of the brick leaving space between tiles - 1/8 to 1/4 inch - to your preference.  Ready for the grout!

  Afterwards, the grout was pressed into the tile pieces firmly with a trowel. A sponge was used to smooth and shape the grout around the tile. Continually, wet the sponge and use it to sculpt the grout

Step Nine - Grout between the Tiles - For the specific mix, we used about 3 onces per pound of mix.  Follow specific directions on your bag of mix.  We mixed the grout and water for about 10 minutes. 

Step Ten - Seal the Grout - After allowing the grout to dry overnight, use a standard water sealant to add a layer of protection to the product.