Jenny Clark

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Jenny Clark

Jenny L. Clark, OTR/L

  • Professional Development Seminars
  • Pediatric Occupational Therapist
  • Certified Kids Yoga Teacher

Getting Kids Outside for a Therapeutic Experience Part 3: Painted Rocks

In Part 3 of getting kids outside for a therapeutic experience, Jenny introduces you to ‘Painted Rocks’, another way to get kids outside connected to nature. Rock Painting is artwork painted on the surface of a smooth stone, then placed in an easy access location outside such as a park or a trail for someone to find and keep or hide again. Painting the rocks develops a child’s fine motor skills and hiding the rocks or finding a painted rock provides opportunity for physical activity and a sensory rich experience in the great outdoors.

In parts 1 and 2 of getting kids outside for a therapeutic experience, we discovered how important fresh air and physical activity is for a child’s physical, mental and emotional health. Part 1 we explored fun activities to connect children to nature in their own back yard. Part 2 we explored therapeutic gardening as a way to connect children to nature. In Part 3 of this series I am introducing you to ‘Painted Rocks’, another way to get kids outside connected to nature. What is it and how does it benefit our children’s health and well-being?

Rock Painting is artwork painted on the surface of a smooth stone, then placed in an easy access location outside such as a park or a trail for someone to find and keep or hide again. Painting the rocks develops a child’s fine motor skills and hiding the rocks or finding a painted rock provides opportunity for physical activity and a sensory rich experience in the great outdoors.

Materials needed for Painted Rocks:

  • Smooth flat rocks – these can be purchased or found outside easily, just keep your eyes open
  • Acrylic paint – I like Apple Barrel brand or Martha Stewert
  • Paint brushes – Look for brushes that don’t shed bristles
  • Paint pens – Artistro or POSCA are good quality brands
  • Chalk Markers – these are great for younger children
  • Sealer – I use Modpodge for outdoors. You can use paint on sealer or spray on sealer. The sealer is an important step because it keeps the paint on the rock if it gets rained on before someone finds it.

What to do:

  • Wash the rocks and let them dry completely
  • Paint a smooth flat rock using acrylic paint. Allow the paint to dry
  • Decorate the rock using paint pens, small paint brush, or chalk markers
  • You can choose to skip the acrylic paint step and go right to decorating the natural surface of the rock
  • Seal it with Modpodge or other sealer of your choice
  • Remember to label the back of the rock if you have a Rock Painting Facebook page or if you belong to a Rock Painting Facebook page community – there are several to choose from. In most cases, you will need to request permission to be admitted to join the group
  • Take a photo of the painted rock and post the pic to a Facebook page
  • Hide the rock in a park, family-friendly hiking trail, or at a playground
  • Your job is complete. Now time for someone to find the precious treasure!

With older children and teens, you can take rock painting to the next level and paint an inspirational message on your rock. Whoever finds this rock, well, it will make their day! I found a rock with a kind message one day when I was out mountain biking. The timing was serendipitous, as I needed to read that message on that day to help me resolve a conflict I was experiencing.

There is national movement called ‘The Kindness Rocks Project’. A woman by the name of Megan Murphy is the creator of this movement. The Kindness Rocks Project encourages people to leave rocks painted with inspiring messages along the path of life. Check it out at www.thekindnessrocksproject.com 

There are tons of ideas on Pinterest for painted rock designs and inspirational messages to write on the rocks.

Some of my favorite inspirational quotes I have painted on my rocks include:

  • Dream Big
  • Stay True
  • Be Kind
  • Shine On
  • Just Breathe
  • Trust Life
  • Live Simply
  • Feel Inspired

I have my own Painted Rock Facebook page called ‘Dolphin65’. It is open to anyone. If you find a painted rock with that label on the back, then you found one of the painted rocks I created!  I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to post a pic of anyone’s painted rock you and your child find on my Facebook page and let’s share the joy!