School Readiness Rocks!: How Painting Rocks Can Help Build Skills

School Readiness Rocks!: How Painting Rocks Can Help Build Skills

By now, you have seen our post about our fun activity for the month: KITS Rocks! We started this activity to provide families with a way to get out into Spring and find nifty painted rocks at parks around town. But along the way, we discovered to our surprise: We LOVED painting rocks!  The KITS Team got together several times during January and February to paint rocks and we had SO. MUCH. FUN! We really enjoyed letting the rocks tell us what they wanted to be, looking at other people’s great designs online for inspiration, and coming up with our own motivational, kind, supportive words to add to the rocks.

The trend of painting rocks has really taken off with the Kindness Rocks Project. The founder, Megan Murphy, talks about how she was inspired by rocks and sea glass that she would find on the beach. One day, after writing some kind words on a rock and leaving it on the beach, she realized just how much of an impact finding a compassionate message at the right time could make to someone else: her friend texted and told Megan that she had found a rock with a message and it had made her day when she was having a rough time. Now people all over the world are creating these rocks and leaving them for others to find!

Kindness and the ability to help others out when they are feeling bad are two HUGE school readiness skills. Since we had so much fun making KITS rocks, we wanted to share some tips about how to make your own rocks AND practice some school readiness skills at the same time. Double bonus!!!!!

What you’ll need:

  • Rocks

All different shapes and sizes. You can also purchase rocks at local gardening and/or craft stores.

  • Non-toxic acrylic paint.

You don’t have to have a lot of fancy colors (although that can be fun). You can make most colors with red, yellow, blue, black, and white.

  • Paintbrushes

You can get packs of different sizes at craft stores.

  • Sharpies

This can help with finer writing.

  • Some kind of cover – newspaper, paper bags, plastic tablecloth – to protect your work surface
  • Cups of water for cleaning brushes
  • Napkins
  • Non-toxic sealant

Mod-Podge Outdoors is a good one.

What you’ll do:

1. Find your rocks.

Talk to your kids about what shapes they like best and why. What do they imagine the rocks could be?

2. Wash your rocks. Get all grit and dirt off and then let them dry totally before you paint them.

Talk about how the rocks feel. Are they rough? Smooth? Why might some of them be smooth? Did they have water running over them to knock off their rough edges?

3. Paint your rocks with a base coat. This is a great thing for younger kids to do. They can use several different colors for the base. Or they can mix two colors to make another.

Experiment with mixing two colors to make a third–like blue and red to make purple. Kids also can use white to make colors lighter–like making pink from red–or use black to darken colors–like making navy from bright blue. This is also great time to practice color names with younger kids.

4. Decide on your main words or picture. You can paint or write anything on rocks. Words. Pictures. Shapes. Designs with dots. Let your imagination run wild! The finished rocks do not have to look perfect. It is the fun, positivity, and kindness that matter!

 Practice recognizing kindness and feelings:

 Ask your child to think about the last time that she felt sad. What would have made her feel better? A special word? An ice cream cone? Paint them on your rock!

When your child is feeling happy, what does he think about?  

When your child’s friends are sad, what does she say to make them feel better?

What do you say to your child to help him feel happy?

When you child is angry, what helps to calm her down?

 5. Seal your rocks. Since they will be outside, your rocks will need protection against the elements. A good non-toxic sealant is Mod-Podge Outdoor.

 Talk about which rocks your child liked making the best and why.

6. Hide your rocks. This is the SUPER fun part. You get to go outside and put your rocks around so other people will find them and feel good!!!!

(When you are placing rocks in parks and other public places, make sure that it is okay to do so. Please do not put your rocks in National Parks.)

 Talk about how other people might feel when they feel the rocks. Will they be happy? Excited?

How would your child feel if she found a rock?

Would your child like to tell his friends that he has hidden some rocks? How will they feel?

How does your child feel about making other people happy? Does it make her feel happy? Proud?

7. Look for other people’s rocks. While you are out and about, see if you can find other kindness rocks. And be sure to look for KITS rocks! If you find one, take a selfie and post it to Instagram (@kitsprograms) or to Facebook.  We will enter you in a drawing for fabulous prizes.

Making kindness rocks is a fun activity for everyone. So let your creativity flow. And imagine the smiles on other people’s faces when they find your creation!

We would love to see picture of your rocks in the comments!

Text and images: © Kids In Transition to School 2019

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.


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