Kids are naturally creative. They love to grab the nearest crayon, marker, or paint brush and decorate any surface they can find.
But there’s something special about natural objects like wood or stone that can make painting them even more meaningful to a child.
The painted rock projects below can be made with smooth river stones and paint or markers.
If smooth stones aren’t plentiful where you live, you can pick up an inexpensive bag in the garden section of a home improvement store.
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1. Owl painted rocks
If you have an owl lover (or Harry Potter fan) in your house, these cute and simple owl designs will win their hearts. Stick with standard brown and grey plumage, or brighten them up with wilder color schemes unknown to nature.
2. Ladybug painted rocks
Who says ladybugs have to be red? These cute little guys and gals would be welcome mascots in any garden. If the rocks are meant for outdoor use, you can add a layer of non-toxic weatherproof sealer, such as Mod Podge “Outdoor.”
3. DIY Car Track Rocks
Let the kiddos create their own do-it-yourself car track set. After they’ve finished painting, the durable stone cars, buildings, and tracks will give them hours of fun in the sandbox!
4. Pebble domino game
If you want a project that results in a new game to keep kids busy after the paint has dried, look no farther. These stones can be used to play dominoes just like the commercial tiles (just don’t try to set them up on their short ends!).
5. Painted rock garden markers
If you grow your own vegetables, these painted rock garden markers are another useful project that will last for years to come. They’ll also help teach kids the names and spellings of herbs and vegetables.
6. Minion stones
“Despicable Me” fans will enjoy painting these easy and fun Minion stones. Bonus: they only require four colors of paint!
7. Word rocks
Let your kids express themselves verbally as well as artistically with these word rocks. They can keep the short affirmations and inspirational messages around as reminders, or gift them to someone special.
8. Rock magnets
For another functional project, attach magnets to the backs of painted rocks. Not only are they artworks in their own right, they can be used to hold other art in place on the fridge!
9. Stone cactus
I have to confess, this is my favorite of all these projects. Keep it indoors or outdoors: No need to find a warm, sunny window or worry about ice and snow. This trendy stone cactus will look good wherever you decide to put it.
10. Rock photo holders
Have kids create photo holders from hand-painted rocks and wire, then insert their photos (or photos of themselves with the recipient). A great gift idea for moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, or other special people.