Using stones to demonstrate the value of natural materials in learning and play
When I work in schools, they seem to be just as popular:
This was a piece of artwork created during a free play session with 4 and 5 year olds
Nursery children following a trail of stones laid by a couple of children which lead to treasure!
This photos shows an area that was left for 3-6yrs olds to make natural artwork as they wished. It can often help to have light coloured sheets that highlight the objects. In grass or woodland areas often the materials are quite well camouflaged.
If you look at the photo above, the stones are stored in grass baskets. Natural materials seem to be best presented in baskets and other natural storage containers. They look less attractive when kept in plastic boxes:
Painted stones are an asset to any stone collection. They can be made by children by painting stones and varnishing them. The detail that older children can achieve is lovely. These stones depict local life in a fishing village in NE Scotland:
Last year I discovered that Mindstretchers sold deco pens that do not require varnishing. Unlike permanent marker pens, they have bright colours, are waterproof and are great for stonework:
They also suggested that painted stones are great for story telling. For instance, if you look at the stones in the photo below:
In turn a child picks a stone and helps make a group story....
Once upon a time there was a ladybird called Lucy.
She lived in Scotland.
One day Lucy decided to go for a walk over a hill.
She wanted to see if she could find the end of a rainbow.
Many children also like playing with letters. They can be used in free play and many structured activities to aid the learning of letters and sounds. For example, letter stones can be hidden in an outside area and children can see which ones they can find. If your school is using a synthetic phonics approach then this is a useful way to reinforce the letters and the sounds they make.
The next possibility is to create word stones. Paint whole words on stones. Children can do this for each topic! Again these can be used in different games to help children develop literacy skills. For example, stones can be placed in a school garden. The children have to find the words and use them to make a poem or write a sentence - the level of difficulty depending upon the age and ability of the children.
Many maths activities can use number stones. Again, the range of activities is huge. Feel free to make some suggestions....!