• creative expression
• descriptive language
• art vocabulary
• art history
Materials• rocks and stones of all shapes, sizes, and colors
• cotton balls
• tempera paint
• permanent markers
Set Up and PrepareCollect a number of books that show children different landmarks built out of stone. Look for pictures of the pyramids in Egypt, Native American art, Mayan art, and Stonehenge. If possible, take children to a museum or art gallery to see firsthand some of the items made of stone.
Explain to children that they will become rock artists, using a technique that is thousands of years old. Bring in a large pile of stones and rocks of all different sizes, shapes, and colors. Make sure children have enough space to explore and experiment. Invite them to build with the rocks, combining ones they find interesting. Do any of the shapes remind them of animals, buildings, vehicles, people, trees, or land formations? Can they stack some to create a rock sculpture? When they have had enough time to think up some ideas and explore some possibilities, let them begin.
Model how to tear a small piece of cotton from the cotton ball and dip it in glue. Show children how to place it on the surface of one rock and add the second rock on top. Suggest that they hold it in place for a minute so the rocks don’t slide apart. The trick here is to use a very thin piece of cotton ball. Try not to let the cotton show.
Invite children to begin creating rock art. Some may choose to draw a picture on a single stone while others build objects. If children choose to stack and glue rocks in some formation, these will need to dry overnight before they paint or draw on them. Set up an area in your room for a rock art gallery and set aside time for children to share their art.
Remember: Children are all at different developmental stages and their skill level will vary. Some will automatically get an idea and begin creating immediately. Other children may need your guidance to imagine what a rock could be. It’s important to allow plenty of time for children to explore, share ideas, and play with the material before they begin.
Curriculum Connection: ART
Create a Cave. Share pictures of animals that were painted in caves thousands of years ago. Do children recognize what any of the pictures are? Bring a large cardboard box into the classroom. Invite them to paint the inside of the box like cave dwellers did. Children can create their own cave art and use it in the dramatic-play area or for a quiet reading space.
A Child’s Book of Art
by Lucy Micklethwait
(DK, 1993; $20)
by Johah Winter
(Scholastic, 2002; $17)
My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me
by Maya Angelou
(Crown, 2003; $8)