Doing Painted Rocks the Right Way

Painted Rocks


Painted, whaaat? Yup. Painted rocks. My littles LOVE to paint rocks. So, why not give it a try?

The thought of a toddler painting can be a bit overwhelming. But, it's great for their development. Toddler painting crafts and activities are great learning opportunities!

First, why paint?

  • It allows children to express themselves and be creative.
  • It’s fun.
  • It provides a safe and fun way for children to experiment and think through various processes while painting.
  • It allows kids to use their imaginations.
  • Helps kids use their brains differently, which is great for development.
  • They’re practicing and learning different skills and techniques.
  • It can be a great stress relief.
  • It allows for critical thinking- what they painted, why, what someone else did, etc.
  • They need to ask for supplies, help, and listen to and follow directions.



Why painted rocks?

  • It’s something different. And, if you have rocks outside, it’s free.
  • They make a great gift from your child, as they can be used to decorate a garden, potted plants inside, used as paperweights, etc.
  • They’re easy to hold and something your child can rotate and paint (instead of a piece of paper).
  • They come in all different shapes and sizes.


Now how do we go about making painted rocks?

  • Select rocks. This is a great chance to talk about size and shape of rocks. Smooth rocks work best, but it’s also fun to experiment.  
  • For best results, wash the dirt off the rocks. This could be as simple as you rinsing them off and letting them dry or as involved as your little one using soap and water and washing them.
  • Let the rocks dry.
  • Grab some paint and let your little one paint the rocks! Use a paint brush or other “tools” to paint, or just their fingers.
    • What should you paint? Anything! Bugs, animals, faces, polka dots, striped rocks, etc. Paint some rocks with X and some with O for a game of tic-tac-toe!
  • Acrylic paint works the best because it won’t wash away with water. But, you could also use a clear varnish/spray “paint” to seal the rocks after your child paints them with finger paints or tempera paint.



My kids love playing with the rocks they painted. They love finding them in the backyard, lining them up, moving them from one spot to another… All kinds of made up fun! Now that she’s a bit older and has done it a few times, Sweet Pea can wash her own rocks and paint them all by herself. I still help her get set up, but after that, she’s good to go!



Ready to take it a step further?

Get different types of rocks. Analyze them (talk about how they’re similar and different). Then, paint them. Ask your child, “What’s it like to paint bumpy rocks vs smooth rocks? Why?”


Bonus: hide the rocks in parks for other people to find! Imagine what fun another child will have discovering a painted rock in an unexpected place!



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