Today I have a super fun activity for kids that’s great for all ages – from toddlers all the way to tweens. (If your teen is artistic, you might convince them too!) We’re making pet rocks for kids!
Pet rocks are easy to make and inexpensive, since you can probably find plenty of rocks in your backyard. Here in New Hampshire, we joke that we grow rocks and it’s true. We have so many rocks that no matter how much we may till an area of soil for a garden, there are always more appearing. There’s a reason we’re called the Granite State.
Ideally you’ll want smooth rocks – not jagged and rough. Also you probably don’t want super big rocks that kids may be prone to dropping on their siblings toes. But that’s up to you.
You’ll need acrylic paint and cheap paint brushes in varying sizes. I found an acrylic paint kit with a variety of colors at Walmart for just $12, but you can also get find some online at Amazon (<<affiliate links>>) at reasonable prices. Here’s one kit and another that I would have bought if our Walmart didn’t have any. From personal experience, craft stores like Michaels are very expensive when it comes to acrylic paints so I’d avoid that for this simple project, unless you have a great coupon.
- 1 or more smooth rocks
- acrylic paint in desired colors
- all-purpose paint brushes in varying sizes
- paper towels or cardboard to contain the paint mess
- googly eyes, optional
- super glue, optional
Set up your children’s work areas by laying down cardboard or paper towels over the table to protect from paint mishaps. Acrylic paint can be removed by scrubbing with water, but it’s much harder to clean up than regular watercolor paints. I also recommend that have your children (especially younger ages) wear old clothes you don’t mind getting ruined with paint. Or use a painter’s apron if you have one.
I liked using cardboard – even something simple like a broken-down cereal box was perfect for my kids to use as their painting area. I squirted a small amount of paint on to the cardboard (safer than giving them access to entire tubes of paint) and they started painting.
This is a great way for younger children to practice fine motor skills as they hold the paint brush. My 5 year old, Joshua, has struggled with holding his pencil properly, but thanks to his awesome kindergarten teachers, he is doing much better now. See how he’s practicing and doesn’t even realize it?
Luke just went to town in painting his rock.
Emily (she’s 8) knew exactly what she wanted to paint – a turtle and a butterfly. Later, she went on to make pet rocks for everyone in the family!
Nathan is the artist in our family, and at age 12, he came up with some pretty nice ideas for pet rocks. His first creation was a rainbow rock.
His next creation was a bumble bee and a Minion! Emily loved the idea and made two of her own minions. I think they both did a great job, especially considering they didn’t copy a picture – this was all from memory!
I explained to the kids how their pet rock paintings would turn out nicer if they waited for the paint to dry between layers or different colors, but kids don’t like to wait. That’s why some of the colors ran together a little. So a lesson in patience too!
Pet rocks are so much fun because the possibilities are limited only by you and your kids’ imaginations. You can paint a rock all one color and super glue a couple googly eyes on it. Or get artistic and paint an animal or favorite character, like the Minions.
(One small warning – be aware of the googly eyes and small children who may put things in their mouths. The super glue does a good job of keeping the eyes stuck on, but we’ve still had a couple stubborn googlies pop off.)
I surprised myself by enjoying this fun activity just as much as my kids. I made a couple pet rocks and later, my sister joined us and painted a hamster.
My kids spent a couple hours painting their pet rocks. Even I was surprised at just how much fun they had. With a literally unlimited supply of rocks, the only thing stopping them from painting more than they did was me. (Mean ol’ mom did eventually make them clean up, finish chores, and head to bed on time.)
Luke was very proud of his work. He was not so happy when I scrubbed him down later though!
The next day, all three kids proudly brought their pet rocks in to school to show their teachers and friends. And at home later, they spent another hour or so playing with their pet rocks. If I had realized just how much fun this activity for kids is, we would have made pet rocks a long time ago!
Hint: pet rocks can be a great homemade gift from your children too! Think about Father’s Day that’s fast approaching. Or even just an every day I-love-you gift for Grandma.
Looking for more fun activities for kids?