For outdoor educators, parents, camp counselors or anyone who plays with children in nature, these stones are a nice compliment to a nature hike with children or a scavenger hunt. These are decorated with nature drawings using a black, fine tip sharpie marker. The more smooth the stone, the easier it will be to draw on.
I liked to have a little cloth bag of them on me during our hike. At the end, we would sit in a circle and debrief (talk about the experience) where everyone gets a chance to share something they learned, saw, wanted to see, whatever they want to share. This is especially nice to do around a fire. After each child has an opportunity to share something, he/she may reach into the bag and pull out a nature stone to take home with them. The bag gets passed around the circle until everyone picks their keepsake.
It’s a nice touch when there are enough drawings so that no more than two children might have the same stone, and if the drawings are of things the kids might have seen on their hike. For a hike of 20+ kids, I used a dozen different drawings.
I like to encourage the children to close their eyes, and really “feel around” until they can tell they have chosen “their stone”, especially if they are younger children. They end up taking their sweet time deciding which stone to remove from the bag, it becomes a process for some of them.
I haven’t done this with anyone over the age of 12 (except for the teachers who accompanied their classes on my hikes, and I will admit I was surprised at the eagerness of the teachers to pick a rock for themselves too! I was glad to have drawn up extras).
1. Collect some stones. The more smooth, the easier to draw on. Stones found along river beds tend to be more smooth than those found along roadsides and forest hiking trails.
2. Decorate stones using a black, fine-point, felt-tipped permanent marker.
I found that certain stone shapes would lend themselves more readily to certain drawings (i.e.: a compass fit well on a round or oblong stone, while the squirrel fit well on irregular shaped stones, and the bone-fish on kidney bean shaped stones). This made me wonder, if similar personalities in the group would be attracted to similar stones (it is by feel after all). Having more than 20 children under your care, means these finer details often go unnoticed, in the buzz and hum that such a little tornado of children creates, so that question remains unanswered.
Depending on the season, you could draw whatever suits, here are some ideas.
- acorn (Incidentally, none of the kids wanted to keep the acorn stone. I did this twice, and each time, the acorn was returned to the bag for a trade-in! It’s not so popular yet, but I still put it in because you never know who might decide to like it, and it’s good to have variety).
- various leaves
- compass rose
- bear paw
- wolf paw
- lady bug
- bow and arrow
- various flowers
- various bugs
Have fun and good luck with your stone drawings!