Rocks are like nature’s gift to kids. Just right for little hands that find and pick them up anywhere, there’s very special nature play with rocks. While adults have pockets for keys and cell phones, kids have pockets for rocks. Do rocks send out signals that only kids can hear?
Rocks hold a special fascination for children. They love to look for rocks and pick out ones with certain features like colors, squiggles or patterns, unusual shapes, and combinations of different materials.
Besides finding rocks, kids will build with them, move them, balance rocks on top of each other, and clap them together to make sounds. They will throw rocks into pools of water and watch the ripples. Some children will collect rocks and fill not only pockets, but boxes with rocks.
Nature play is critical to children’s development. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, writes that children with a connection to nature are another endangered species. “Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart.” Perhaps the attraction of rocks, is that they are a piece of the heart of nature. With a rock, kids can carry nature with them, wherever they go.
Turning over a rock reveals a tiny, hidden world. Bugs are often underneath and scurry around looking for new places to be safe. Children learn that nature is often unseen and exists on both a large and small scale. If there is nature under rocks, who knows where else it might be, just waiting to be discovered?
For children to keep their sense of wonder, we need to nurture it and we can do so with nature. Just like nature, the opportunities we give them can be large and small. We can let kids explore mountains and we can let them play with rocks.
Is there time in your child’s day for some nature play with rocks?
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