Mayhem and Messy Play #17: Messy Play with Rocks

Thankfully, most messy play with rocks happens outside so we don’t worry; Mother Nature takes care of the mess as she invites kids to play and learn.sensory messy rock play

There are two activities that kids love to do over and over with rocks. One of them is to throw rocks, especially in water, be it a puddle, a lake, a river, or an ocean. This is highly sensory: the weight of the rock in the hand, the breeze on the skin when throwing, watching the rock as it arcs toward the water, and, at last, the sound of the kerplunk or splash. The messy part happens as kids gradually move closer to the water and then end up in it, or, just get covered with dirt as they dig up rocks to throw.rock play

Speaking of digging, that’s the second activity that never seems to lose its appeal. Kids will spend hours digging up rocks and dumping them. They may use their hands, shovels, or wheeled toys.

As we watch them, we wonder why this engages them so intently, but there’s just as much action happening we can’t see. Kids are exploring cause and effect. While this is no mystery to us, it’s still pretty exciting to kids. Just imagine, each time they tip the shovel or the dump truck, the rocks slide off.messy rock play

Rocks are fun just to dig up, carry around, and pile up somewhere else. Kids are making an impact on their environment, actively creating instead of passively experiencing. They can feel, see, and hear the evidence of their own power.nature play with rocks

Collecting rocks is a way to organize messy play with rocks. For young children, putting one or more rocks in each space of an egg carton can be enough. Filling an empty water bottle is another way to gather and keep rocks.moon rocks bottle activity

Before rocks come in the house, kids can wash them in warm soapy water and let them dry in the sun. When rocks are wet it’s so much easier to see all the lines, shapes, and different colors. Once rocks are dry, kids may enjoy painting on rocks for another kind of messy rock play.painted rock play activity Might any of these ideas appeal to your child for a play-of-the-day that rocks?  Check out how grownups play with rocks:

rock play for adults

P.S. Come back to the blog tomorrow for more messy play ideas!


Space Activities for Kids #17: Moon Rocks Bottle Activity

Space activities do not have to be elaborate to be fun for kids. This moon rocks bottle activity was engaging and simple, full of learning and play. It appeals to any child who likes rocks, and that’s most, if not all of them.

moon rocks bottle activity

Finding a pile of small rocks is usually easy. Rocks have a sort of magnetic or magic attraction for kids. They’ll know where to find some. Besides some rocks, kids need an empty water bottle with a wide mouth. Once kids, rocks, and water bottle are all in the same place, it’s time to count down, blast off, and journey to the moon. When they have landed, they start filling the water bottle with the moon rocks.

moon rocks bottle activity

Yes, that’s it. That’s the play-of-the-day. While a grownup could fill up the bottle in just a minute or two, a child picks up each rock one-by-one and checks it out. It’s as if each rock has a story and kids want to hear it. Kids look for lines, swirls, spots, curves, edges, and other markings on rocks. Little Sister spent quite a long time filling her bottle with moon rocks.

This moon rocks bottle activity may not seem like much, but there’s a lot to it. For example,

  • Problem-solving: Kids need to think about the best way to make each rock go in the bottle. It might not fit the first time. If it doesn’t fit, what then? Maybe a plastic shovel will help or maybe not.
  • Making choices: What rock will come next? What should happen to ones that don’t fit? We don’t think making choices is a skill that needs practice, but how often do we ask kids if something they did was a good choice?
  • Size and space: Not outer space this time, but inner. Kids need lots of experiences to know if something will fit in a space or not. This can be a challenge for some adults.
  • Concentrating: Filling a bottle with rocks needs eyes and hands working together on the activity. This demands some focusing and paying attention.
  • Language: This is a solitary activity, but chances will want to show someone what they have done. They will also tell about it. There could be a story about how some rocks didn’t fit.
  • Fine-muscle control: At this age, the small muscles in the hand, wrist, and fingers are still developing. Picking up and manipulating the moon rocks is good exercise.
  • Emotional regulation: A rock that doesn’t fit can be pretty frustrating. Kids get a chance to cope with their emotions as they figure out what to do.
  • Goal-setting: Filling up a whole bottle is quite an achievement. Play can involve work but when done, kids can feel proud of their effort.

These are some of the ways kids learn as they play. Would your child enjoy this moon rocks bottle activity?

Kids Play with Anything #5: Child’s Play with Rocks

Child’s play with rocks starts almost as soon as little ones can pick them up and may last a lifetime. They are not a toy, but definitely great for play.

play with rocksA small rock is just the right size for a child’s hand. When it gets warm, kids find a rock comforting to hold. Available in an endless variety of sizes, shapes, textures, and colors, kids can play with them in an endless variety of ways too.

Rocks are made for throwing. In puddles, lakes, and oceans. Over and over, kids will throw rocks, watch the ripples, and listen for the splash. Small rocks are made for digging and dumping, either with pails and shovels, or with diggers and dump trucks. Some are just the right size for carrying, and others so big kids want to climb them.

play with rocksOne of the ways that kids play with rocks is by sorting them. This can be done over and over. A category can be rocks of one color, type, or shape. Big Sister calls one bunch of her rocks, her jelly beans because of their shape and another set, her pirate rocks because they look like jewels.

science fun and play with rocksRocks can be arranged in different patterns. These ones go strawberry/rock, strawberry rock. Or, they might make designs and pictures like art work.

science fun and play with rocksFor kids, rocks have special magical powers. A rock might be part of pretend play, as in a treasure to be guarded or maybe one to find. Young kids—and grownups, collect rocks. Sometimes, the collection stays the size of pockets, but other times, it grows to shelves, boxes, and rooms.

Bella-painted-rocksBuilding with rocks is another way to play. Rocks might be stepping stones, a fairy path, a road for cars and trucks, or a home for a small plastic dinosaur. They are fun to paint.

Kids will find other ways to play with rocks. After any rock play, before doing laundry, check pockets. Rocks are not a friend to washing machines. They don’t feel so good in boots and shoes, either. Nevertheless, when it comes to kids and play, rocks really rock, don’t they?