We’ve got little rock piles in every room of this house. We can’t help it-I’ve always been a saver of rocks, and L is too. Everywhere we go, she and I are collecting them, absentmindedly putting them in our pockets and bringing them home.
We dug out the stash of rocks and the kids came up with some very creative ways of using them. In no particular order, here are 10 favorites:
10. Use them as trucks. Long, flat rocks became bulldozers. Small round ones were steamrollers. J even designated one to be a feller buncher, his all-time favorite truck. (um, whose child is this?)
9. Use them as blocks. They make fantastic building elements. We created a cave, some bridges, and a “garage.”
8. How many can you stack to make a tower? Which kinds of rocks work best for stacking?
7. Use them as characters in a puppet show. They all have distinct personalities, have you noticed? Is this a bit of a stretch for you? Pick up a rock and make it “talk” to your child. He or she will likely get the other rocks involved in the conversation and you’ll soon see each rock’s personality emerge.
6. Wash the rocks. You can do this in the sink, a pan of warm water, or better yet, the bath.
5. Paint them. An old favorite, this activity never gets old. Tempera paints are bright and bold, what effect can you get using watercolors? Or forget the paints, how about pastels? Crayons?
4. Paint with them. Instead of using brushes, use rocks. Dip them in paint, press them on paper, roll them around in a tray lined with paper.
3. Sort them. Let your children decide on the categories: size, shape, color. Where found, boy/girl (for some reason, in our house, rocks have gender) etc.
2. Hide them around the house. In our house, we never seem to tire of “hide-and-seek” games. The kids love it when I hide their stuff so they can search for it. Rock hunting inside is a new challenge.
1. Roll them around on various surfaces and compare what happens. Watch how they move, listen to the sounds that they make. This is especially fun if you’ve first dipped the rocks in paint. (see #5 above)
How does your family play with nature indoors? Love to hear your ideas!
Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth by Patty Born Selly
This book is full of ideas and activities that help you educate children about the environment through experience and play. These activities encourage children to develop a sense of wonder, curiosity, and joy for nature. Each chapter focuses on common and important environmental topics including waste reduction, recycling, air quality, weather, climate change, and energy reduction and provides information to present these topics to children in developmentally appropriate ways.
Patty Born Selly is the founder of Small Wonders, an educational consulting company that provides teacher training and support for science and nature education initatives. Patty is an adjunct faculty member at Hamline University and Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, where she teaches classes on nature and environmental education, as well as science education to early childhood elementary school teachers. She has taught preschoolers, kindergartners, and elementary school students.