by Maria Chatzi
Teaching kids creative inspiration with beach stones is something that will follow them through their whole life – it trains them to making connections and opens their mind to new possibilities, both vital skills for success and happiness in life.
Also, natural materials like beach rocks and beach pebbles are excellent open-ended playthings with endless possibilities.
Children will get fresh ideas to write short stories, poems or school play scripts, create imaginative rock-worlds and play with stone-friends and rock animals.
Teach children creative inspiration with beach stones in pairs, groups or individually.
The results are impressive and exceptionally rewarding when the activities that you've chosen for your children combine improvement of language skills and development of artistic skills.
The activities described below are either for outdoors (on the beach, your yard or garden) or for indoors (at home or school), on condition you provide the kids with some beach stones of interesting shape, color, texture and various sizes to choose from to work with if you’re not at the beach.
Most of the times, though, carrying actual beach stones into your classroom is not so easy to do, as you would probably need a large variety and a good number of them for all your students.
Alternatively, you could use photos or magazine pictures of beach rocks, pebbles, boulders - so it is a good idea for teachers to have a shoe box where the class will collect these pictures (everyone should contribute) for these projects.
What follows is a list of activities parents, teachers, kids' caretakers can use to teach children creative inspiration with beach stones.
These activities could:
a) either naturally follow each other - so you may do them all as a series of projects to be completed within a period of one or two months, or
b) be used independently of one another - in this case, choose only those you believe would be more fun or more appropriate for your kids.
Activity Nr. 1
Ask the children to pick a rock they like most.
Ask why they like it so much. Put the rock next to your ear.
Tell them there’s a talking magic creature inside the rock that keeps whispering “I love you.”
What kind of creature is it?
Describe it - it’s likes/dislikes/a day in its life etc.
Why is it there?
Who put it there?
What else is it saying to them that it isn’t saying to you (the parent or teacher)?
Who sent it?
What does it do at night-time?
Whose watching it at nights?
What if it started to sing one day?
What would it sing about?
What if it asked the children to take it home with them – would they?
What if it asked for their help to fulfill its purpose of living or of travelling here – would they help?
Ask as many open-ended question as you find necessary to help them build a story in their minds.
Activity Nr. 2
Have the kids choose another rock, which reminds them of an animal and tell the kid that this is going to be their rock pet.
What kind of animal is it?
Where did they get it from?
What’s it like?
Also, ask them to tell you a few things about its habits.
What does it eat? etc.
Tell children they are going to invite their imaginary creature (from Activity Nr. 1 above) for lunch to meet with their rock pet.
The creature loves rock pets – actually, it has a rock pet of its own back home.
Use the same open-ended questions technique as above, to help them build this second story of theirs.
Activity Nr. 3
Tell the children they should pick a third "magic" stone now.
There is a secret they should know: the stone has something inside it that you (the teacher or parent) cannot see.
Encourage them to describe this to you – it could be an object/ a couple of objects, a building, a neighborhood/town, or even a whole world.
Help them express themselves by using the open-ended questions technique.
After they’ve finished with their description ask them to tell you how all these things (from all these Activities Nr.1,2,3) are connected to each other, what ties them together to make one story.
Again, ask open-ended questions to help with creating the story behind the inspiration.
It depends on you to decide whether you want the kids to put their stories (from Activities Nr. 1,2,3) in written form or not.
If you feel they should do some creative writing activity at this point as well, based on their creative inspiration with beach stones, feel free to do so.
Or, perhaps they could only keep notes to remember the structure of their stories and fill out the details later on. Or you could have them write poems about their stories.
Activity Nr. 4
Now it’s time for you to save the art of imaginative play from being forgotten by present and future generations.
If you let kids play in the imaginative worlds of the stories they’ve created they’d be thrilled.
They should pretend they’re living in the imaginary building, town, neighborhood or world of Activity Nr. 3.
What does it feel like to live there?
How do they spend their day?
Have them create/form their play-space as if it’s the actual place of Activity Nr. 3.
For this, provide them with any additional playthings they may ask for as long as these are safe for kids, cheap or of no cost (like pillows, play-dough, sand, craft paper scraps, ribbons and lace) and things to be recycled (like shoe-boxes, plastic bottle caps, buttons).
Activity Nr. 5
Finally, start a craft or art project with them, inspired by the stories they’ve created, the characters or places in their stories, or any other experience they’ve had during their imaginative play.
Let them decide themselves what their artwork will be about. You only pick the materials they are to use.
For example, first and second graders often choose to draw or paint the creature that lives inside the rock (from activity Nr.1) or the rock pet (from activity Nr.2).
Keep in mind that mixed medium crafts and art projects are much more interesting for kids of any age than working in a single medium.
Children who learn to find inspiration to develop their imagination and get creative with beach rocks and pebbles are proof that creativity can be taught.
But we cannot leave this to teachers only; parents must help too, as we are all interdependent for the best outcome of our efforts.
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