Learning Activities · Small Manipulatives

What to do with all those rocks?

Do any of you mothers find rocks in the washing machine? Or how about in strange places in your house? I thought it was a boy thing, but I only have girls and I am drowning in rocks! They make make me a little crazy…in my carpet, or the giant pile in my mud room, or the bigger pile just outside the garage. But once in a while those rocks make me feel like a tricky super mom! HOW? Let me teach you my ways!

Step one, head to your child’s favorite rock collecting spot.

20160723_141710This is my girls at one of our favorite places, the river. We are spoiled and live in a beautiful place! We rarely return home with out a few rocks stashed somewhere. So when I take my girls down to the river with a bucket in each of their hands and a mission to collect some rocks its all smiles! Help your children look for some flat rocks. Also make sure they pick out a couple of their favorites, fun colors, ones that are shiny.

Step two, have your children help you lay out the rocks. Pick out some of your children favorites and the smooth flat ones. Grab a permanent marker and get writing. I LOVE my alphabet rocks. You could use your child’s favorite rocks for the letters in their name.


I also have a set of sight word rocks that my children enjoy.


My 4 year old loved picking which rock would be the Dad rock and which rock would be the go rock.  She also enjoyed choosing the words that we would use. She insisted I draw what the word was on the back of some of our rocks, which I hope helps her remember what the word means.  I also let my girls mark some of their favorite rocks with their own permanent marker. Once you are done writing or decorating your rocks they are your newest small manipulatives!

Step 3 How do you use them?

One of our favorites is to paint them! This can be done on a towel on the table. If you have a sensory table, we like to do our painting in the table. All you need is a small cup of water, a paint brush (maybe a few of different sizes) and your rocks.  As your children paint the rocks with their water brush they can see the change in color on the rocks. With a small brush your child would be able to trace the letters.


Another way we play with these rocks is to hide them in colored rice or dried beans, really any sensory item you might have for your sensory table. Last week we hid the letters in our sand and added little tractors to dig up the rocks.


For a little more of a writing center direction you could use these rocks to spell out words or names. That is the great thing about adding a small manipulative to your collection. There are so many ways to use them!

What are your families favorite ways to play with all the rocks your littles might collect?

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