These Rock Crafts Are Made to Inspire Creativity in Kids
Walk barefoot in your backyard, in a field, or along the beach and an impertinent rock might jab your big toe. Rocks like to have fun, as any kid knows. They're feisty, but they can get away with it because kids love them—they'll be scooped up and admired for their beauty.
A creative way for kids to use the stones they stumble across is to turn them into animals, people, or objects. With just a few supplies—paint, glue, and clay—children can try out their skills as rock artists. Like little sculptors, they'll learn to judge proportion and form. Like painters, they will need to consider color and shape, along with such pleasant dilemmas as how to create a tapered wing on a rounded rock. Both tempera and acrylic paints work well; 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. Tiny creatures like ladybugs are made from single stones and a bit of paint, while others, like a turtle, require a little assembly. Ever put a koala in your pocket? Or balanced a puppy on your finger? Whether you fancy friendly pebble puppets or a board game made from river stones, you'll find here a plethora of ideas that are as much fun to make as they are to play with.
Once you teach your kids to do these crafts, beware: You may wake up tomorrow morning to see a curious gray spider dangling inches from your nose. Don't worry—it's just a rock on a string, and a mischievous child at the other end of it.
How to Design, Build, and Glue Rock Animals
Study the shape and shade of a rock for clues to its inner nature. When you are ready to design, begin by arranging the rocks until the figure looks just right. Glue rocks together before painting them, attaching small stone features such as eyes, feet, or beaks to body parts before joining larger parts (attach tails, if using, after painting). Cement glue makes the strongest bond, but should be used only by grownups working in a well-ventilated area. White glues are safer for children to use, but they are less durable and best used for rock animals that will sit on shelves.
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How to Decorate Rock Animals
While the glue sets, support the animal parts with little cushions of nondrying clay. To make the alligator, cut-up coffee stirrers are glued to the animal's underside for stability and painted to match the stones. The alligator's hungry mouth is partly supported by his pink tongue. Or, turn rocks into wearable accessories: Encourage kids to paint favorite objects, animals, or patterns. Older children can use a tiny brush to create landscapes. Kids who find stones that look like Dad, Mom, and Sis can paint the family likenesses, and make a necklace for each person.
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This alligator is shaped from an oblong body, pebble appendages, and painted-on features like bulbous eyes and jagged white teeth.
Flat disks are perfect for magnets, like this little piggy, attached with cement glue.
Oblong and misshapen rocks can be turned into shiny circus seals.
Contented ducks in this little family each have secure beaks, painted on or attached with glue.
This portly lop-eared rabbit is the perfect weight for a bookend.
Ladybugs who lunch are elegantly attired in polka-dots.
This lumbering turtle would be happy on a log.
This pair of pandas sit calmly by paper bamboo shoots.
Pet Mouse, Pet Rock
When a mouse's tail begins to uncurl, that means he's tired; put him to bed in a fabric-covered matchbox. (Tip: To make a tail, just glue a piece of black cord to the base of a rock.)
This friendly spotted stone dachshund guards your child's bedroom—by propping its door open.
These frogs are up to no good. They're trying to look nonchalant, but as anyone can see, their heavy-lidded eyes are ready to pop open at the prospect of a fly lunch.
Rock Shark Attack
Yikes! Painting a jagged rock has brought to life a hungry shark. Feed him a succulent roast turkey, complete with a painted-on leg bone, to keep him satisfied. Follow it with a juicy three-stone hamburger and a super-sized side of rock fries. Then display him in the bathroom—the family will have to keep a close eye on him when brushing their teeth.