Maybe because it’s almost primal – the basic figures, the rough outlines, the marking on rocks – but this was one of my favorite camp activities as a child and every class I had enjoyed making and using Story Stones. The most basic of story telling tools and play things – story stones are an incredible facilitator of imaginative play, story telling, vocabulary development, recall skills, sequencing and just plain fun! The trick is to guide your little ones to use them – not make it a forced “learning activity”. Many children will take to the activity without prompting but some will need to be shown how to engage with the stones.
Choose the stones you’ll paint. The best are less than palm sized but large enough to paint on. Choose a variety of shapes and sizes and let your helper have a say – there is no wrong stone choice! If they are from the wild wilderness, give them a good wash and dry to remove any loose soil or debris.
Choose your paint (I used acrylic craft paint I had on hand) and think about what story, scene, characters, etc you’d like to include. The best part of story stones is that you can add to them at any point. In my classroom, we had a running list of things we’d like to add and either I or a student would paint a rock when there was a spare moment. For my set, I talked with Vivi about our recent trip to the beach – to see what she remembered – and created a set based on that. Paint the images and when they are dry finish them with a light coat of Mod Podge or a spray varnish for longevity.
We ended up with a sun, clouds, a tent, a campfire (I think we can thank Dora for that one…), waves, Vivi and ocean/ a tidal pool (thanks, Peppa). Her recall is a perfect example of real experience and imaginative play – she recalled a real experience with things that went along with it from her favorite shows. If you’d rather just make up your “characters”, you can! Think about camping, travel, home, the zoo, the beach, the mountains, winter activities, etc.
Vivi enjoyed moving the cloud through the “sky” with the sun and making the fish “splash” in the waves with “Vivi”. It could be fun to have family story telling or “build a story” by placing all of the stones in a box or bag and drawing one out to add to the story. The possibilities are endless and the combinations infinite! Happy story telling!