With just a few supplies -- paint, glue, and clay -- children can transform the stones they stumble across into animals, people, or toys.
Both tempera and acrylic paints work well for rock craft projects; tempera looks chalkier but washes off easily, making it the best choice for kids. Acrylic paint has a glossy finish. Before painting, kids should sketch out their plan: It's easier to envision what the finished project will look like if they draw it first with pencil on paper.
The stones pictured here are as distinctive as people. One is slender; another, dappled and rotund. Family members can paint their initials on the rocks that suit them and turn them into refrigerator magnets.
Smooth flat stones aren't just for skipping -- they're perfect for game pieces, too. For a set of dominoes, all you need is 28 stones and a white paint pen to draw lines and dots. Begin by drawing a line across the center of each. Then on either side of the line, mark with two sets of dots in every combination from zero to six.
Glue rocks together before painting them, attaching small stone features such as eyes, feet, or beaks to body parts before joining larger parts; attach whiskers and tails after painting. Cement glue makes the strongest bond but should be used only by parents working in a well-ventilated area. (Kid-friendly glues are less durable and are best for rock crafts that will sit on shelves.)
Kids can design a project by arranging rocks until the figure looks right. Use little cushions of nondrying clay to support parts while the glue sets; bread clay works especially well. For example, the alligator's hungry mouth is partly supported by his pink tongue.