Source: Horizon Group USA/the Toy Insider

There are few outdoor summer activities as classic as coloring with chalk. Yet, Chalk Alive from Horizon Group USA puts a whole new twist on this tried-and-true creative boredom buster!

Designed for kids ages 5 and up, these chalk kits each come with six colors of chalk and three reusable stencils. (There is also an Amazon-exclusive pack with 18 chalks and eight reusable stencils and a Costco-exclusive pack with 45 chalks and 12 stencils). There are three Chalk Alive themes to choose from, too, which determine the included chalk colors and the stencil designs. The options are dino, racecar, and rocket; lion, tiger, and dolphin; and unicorn, mermaid (shell stencil), and butterfly. The larger, exclusive packs also add a shark, an alien, and a robot to the mix.

The flat, plastic stencils are easy to use, and the included chalk is good quality and shows up brightly on the sidewalk or driveway. Kids can color over the entire stencil with one color, or chose to use different colors for each section. To get the best result with the stencil, kids will want to color over the area pretty vigorously, which may leave some chalk residue on the stencil, but that is very easy to clean off with a bit of water.

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While drawing with the stencils is a fun activity itself, that is only the start with Chalk Alive. There is a free Chalk Alive companion app, which can animate those stencil drawings with augmented reality! The process of using the app is fairly simple. Once it is downloaded, select “scan” on the homepage, then put the chalk drawing in the camera frame. (It’s important to note that that the app will specifically recognize the 12 possible stencil designs, not freehand drawings!)

Once the app recognizes the image, it will produce an animated, augmented reality (AR) version of that thing — a butterfly, a rocket, etc. Not only does that animation show up within kids’ immediate surroundings, but it is also interactive. If kids scan the butterfly, for example, they will also see sparkling flowers appear on screen, integrated with the real world around them. If they tap on one of the sparkling flowers, the animated butterfly will fly there! Check out the video below to see how scanning process works.

Then, once kids have scanned a specific character in the app, they can go back and replay that interactive animation at any time within the “play” section of the app. This, in my opinion, is the strongest feature because it keeps the play going, even on a day when the weather isn’t chalk-friendly!

Kids can also take photos and videos of the animation within their surroundings. Those images and videos save to the phone’s camera roll — there is no way to share them within Chalk Alive, which makes for a kid-friendly app experience.

Like any app, you may experience some loading wait times or small bugs, especially if the mobile device doesn’t have the most up-to-date operating system. However, my overall experience with the app was very positive.

Screenshots from the ‘Chalk Alive’ app | Source: Horizon Group USA/the Toy Insider

Also, I will say that, even though the AR experience and companion app make Chalk Alive stand out from other chalk experiences, these kits are still a great option for parents seeking screen-free play. The chalk is of good quality, the stencils help guide play, and the kits are less than $5 each (or $15 for the Amazon kit; $25 for the Costco set).

No matter which Chalk Alive set you choose, it is sure to be a successful summer boredom buster. Both your driveway and your camera roll are sure to get a makeover!