Stretching Into Pretty: Learn How to Create Painted Rocks


“Come outside with me,” she calls.

No, that’s not right. She doesn’t call, that’s not her way.

She says softly with her almond eyes that match my husband’s, warmly with her pink tipped fingers lacing mine, and confidently in this newfound tween way that’s absolutely breath-taking.

I peek at her from the yellow couch that still makes me smile eleven years after we bought it.

It’s tinged in all things family. A coffee spill on the cushion, an ink smear on its flipped side, fingerprints and dog hair and pillows that lost their shape long ago. This is my favorite storytelling spot. It’s where I pen my words and drink my family.

“What are you thinking?” I ask, mirroring her tone, but resisting her pull. Outside is not necessarily my way.

My gentle girl with her painted nails and glossy lips loves exploring outside, digging her fingers into dirt, visiting with worms, building with grass and dandelions and sticks. We differ here.

When she was little, I stretched into that kind of mothering. I let go of clean clothes – and hands – and we played in her way. But now that she has two siblings to get dirty with, I tend to keep my distance from the dirt and watch – or photograph – from afar.

“Let’s go find something pretty,” she invites.

And this time, I don’t resist. I throw on my flip flops and squish through the grass and muddy my fingers and explore in her messy way. Because I already found my something pretty. She’s right by my side, and I want us to stay that way.

So we start on her terms collecting rocks, and end on mine painting them.

How to Create Painted Rocks

Painted rocks are a fun and creative activity to do with kids of all ages. Collect rocks with your little one. Flat ones are best for designs, but any will do. Using non-water based paint, paint the rocks with letters, words or designs. If you’d like to display your rocks outside, consider putting a finishing layer of patio paint or spraying the rocks with a Krylon® UV-Resistant Matte Finish.

My creative painted rock ideas were to make:

  • Garden stones to label your garden’s fare
  • Animals, patterns, or initials as small gifts or
  • Special words to display in a garden or home

But my children stretched this project in a different — prettier?– route:

  • Nature based tic tac toe
  • Story rocks — They turn their painted rocks over one at a time and tag-team story tell using the pictures as prompts. Stretching, indeed.

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