Rock Painting: Connecting communities and engaging the young and young at heart!

Recently in my community, and in communities all over the US, a phenomenon has started- people are painting rocks and leaving them for others to find. The idea of painting a rock in not a new one- who remembers pet rocks from the 70's? However this idea of creating pieces of art and inspiration and leaving it for others to stumble upon- or in some case hunt for- is. What's also unique is that groups are gathering and forming communities to celebrate this and keep the good vibes going. Typically they are starting on social media and evolving from there. In Colorado Springs we have 719 Rocks! which not only communicates on Facebook but has hosted rock painting parties. I recently attended an event where hundreds of kids and parents were outside, talking with each other, making new friends and getting excited about something that doesn't have to be plugged in!

There are so many ways to plug this into early literacy. Here are just few ideas from each of the five early literacy categories of how parents, caregivers or libraries can utilize this activity.

Read: There's the obvious choice of choosing a book about a rock or a treasure hunt to share, but you can go even further- read a new story and create rocks to represent the characters from that story. Practice narrative skills by retelling the story as you make your creation!

Write: The drawing (or in this case painting) of pictures and letters develop print awareness. When children do this, they have made the leap to understanding that marks on a page (or rock) can carry meaning.

Talk: This is a great time to build vocabulary! There are so many concepts you can talk about from the shape and texture of the rock to what type of place you might hide it.

Sing: Part of the fun is the hiding- or hunting- for the rocks! As you go on your adventure sings songs like "Going on a Bear Hunt" to add to the excitement! Listening to and singing songs is one of the best ways for children to build their phonological awareness because often each syllable of a word connects to a note.

Play: Getting outside with children is a great way to show them that print is everywhere! Look at and read signs as you hunt. You can even involve them by looking over a map and showing them how to read it!

I hope I have inspired you to give this a try- either with your own early learners or with those in the library. I took my four year old out to hide one this weekend and we had so much fun- after finding a lizard by a rock she found she demanded that we check out lizard books at the library. Seriously, the possibilities here are endless!

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