3 Ways To Use Painted Rocks For Homeschooling

One of our favorite pastimes at Campus By The Sea is rock painting.


Well, we are all incredibly gifted artists living in a tropical paradise with nothing but free time on our hands, and singing wildlife who take care of the day-to-day trivialities of island life.

OK.  The real reason is this:

So many rocks! (1)

Now, if I had the talent of my good friend Celia Baker, I might actually enjoy painting little animals or quotes or at least doing something artistic with the plethora of nature’s canvas we’ve been blessed with.

I, however, can barely paint a winky face.

So, I let the left side of my brain do the work, and together we came up with three practical uses for painted rocks for homeschoolers.

1.  Manipulatives

My girls are all under four years old, so we’re still in the letters/numbers/colors phase of DSC_0351our education program.  We collected round, smooth rocks at the beach, and I let them paint the first coat.

For letters, I painted vowels on a blue background and consonants on a pink background.  This has helped them recognize the role each letter plays in a word.  We build words by either swapping out the vowel (cat to cut) or the consonant (cat to bat).

My next step is to paint numbers and math symbols and begin building math problems.

2.  Enforcing Concepts

The foundation of my curriculum is the Fruit of the Spirit.  To help them remember each one, I chose a simple image that corresponds to each word:

  • Love: heart
  • Joy: smiley face
  • DSC_0352Peace: ocean waves
  • Longsuffering: rocks
  • Integrity: scale
  • Goodness:  Bible
  • Faithfulness: cross
  • Gentleness: dove
  • Self-control: cupcake

Each time we talk about one of the fruits of the Spirit, they hold the rock and I explain what the picture means.  Sometimes, I ask them to “teach” me about one of the rocks.

I’m going to use the same concept when we learn Spanish.  I can paint one side green, for instance, and Sharpie the other side “verde.”  The more words they learn, the bigger the rock pile, and it becomes an encouraging visual.

3.  Homework

The girls haven’t quite mastered control of pens and pencils, but they want to practice their letters.  So, I give them painting assignments.

First, they have to find a few smooth rocks.  Next, I give them instructions like, “paint two green, one red, and three blue” or whatever works with what they’re learning.

When they dry, I tell them to paint a blue A, or a green 3, or a purple circle.  These can double as manipulatives when they’re done.  The girls love it when they recognize one of their letters during word building.

Keys to successful rock painting:

No matter what you end up painting, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your artwork survives the demands of elementary education.

  • Use high-quality paints
  • If possible, use non-porous rocks
  • Find rocks that are flat and smooth
  • Let each coat dry thoroughly
  • Finish your rocks with an aerosol clear coat

Finally, don’t stress about perfection.  My lowercase “t” looks exactly like a plus sign, and my girls don’t care at all.  In fact, it’s been good for them to see that even mom isn’t perfect at school.


Have you used painted rocks in school?  Comment and share your pictures!

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