We have a toy that didn’t cost any money. It is completely customizable, educational, tactile, durable, loaded with interesting details, and open ended. You can find it anywhere and it has stood the test of time.
Ways to Play with Rocks
I guess kids will play with anything you put in front of them and they don’t really need me to tell them how to play with rocks but in the interest of celebrating this versatile toy and renewing interest in a classic (Mother Nature doesn’t tend to spend a lot on marketing) I decided to list some of our favorites!
You might be familiar with this kind of play because of collectible cards? “Gotta catch ’em all” ring any bells? With rocks you simple go to places where there is a good supply. We go to the beach. We bring tote bags or pails and start picking rocks that are interesting for one reason or another. Sometimes it is the color or the shape or a unique feature like a lucky strip (I think these are pretty valuable in a trade). So go ahead and start building an enviable collection!
You’ve heard of cup stacking right? Rock stacking is similar but takes a lot more skill. You have to carefully select each rock and flip it and twist it and carefully place it to achieve balance. You can stack rocks for fun, to beat your personal best, or competitively. See who can make a taller stack or a stack with more rocks. It is challenging and fun!
I am terrible at identifying rocks but I would love to get better! I know there are three main types: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous but I can only tell them apart is someone shows me. Here is a very interesting sedimentary rock I saw at the Boston Museum of Science. My kids had trouble prying me away from the rock exhibit there! Why not collect a bunch of rocks and try to identify them. A good place to start would be this DK book.
Rocks are an excellent math manipulative. You can use them to add and subtract. If you have a big set you can also use them to multiply and divide. You can even create patterns and arrange by size (or mass which you can confirm by submerging them individually in a measuring cup of water). Math with rocks rocks!
Construction sets are the best and a set of rocks are fantastic for creating small stone structures. You can also make stone walls to keep your play livestock contained. Why not incorporate other elements from the Mother Nature catalog too like twigs and leaves. Shh, don’t tell your mom but if you add a little water to some dirt you can create the perfect muddy mortar!
You can get artistic with rocks too. Our set includes several angular pieces that are fun to fit together like a puzzle. You can also arrange your stones in ways that represent real things. Or get inspired by the rocks themselves. I found several worn stones at a beach in Nauset that reminded me of whales. Rocks have dimension, color, and texture! What more could you want from a crafting supply?
What do you see in my mosaic?
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There are six ideas here total but each has endless potential, don’t you think? You know, rocks don’t even need any special care. If you leave them outside they won’t get ruined. In fact why not leave them outside! And don’t forget to keep on adding to your set.
Have an idea for more fun ways to play with rocks? Please share!