Story Stones Guide: How to Make & Ways to Use Them
In this story stone guide, you will learn What Story Stones Are, read about a story stone artist is making a difference in how we connect with our kids, Ways To Use Story Stones with your kids, Why You Should Consider Using Story Stones, How to Make Story Stones, and 20 Story Stone rock painting ideas. Also, I sprinkled in a couple of YouTube videos on how to make and ways to use story stones as well. Enjoy!
What are Story Stones?
Story stones is an interactive way of creative play for children. These simple painted stones promote active learning with the added bonus changing the way we teach and play with our kids. Images, letters, and/or numbers are painted on small stones for storytelling and learning activities.
I had the opportunity to talk with Laura Kane founder of Alleluia Rocks about how her rock painting journey led her to make story stones for family and friends to open a very successful Etsy store selling her popular story stones. She is a talented artist that is changing the way we teach and play with our kids.
of Alleluia Rocks
First of all, tell me a little about yourself, and how you got started painting rocks?
Laura: “I am a medical librarian by profession, but I have always been interested in crafting and artwork. I went to a Fine Arts Magnet school in Augusta, Georgia during high school. I veered away from an arts background for the sake of practicality, but throughout my professional career, I continued to pursue various forms of art. This included clay sculpting, scrapbooking, and paper crafting. A few years ago a coworker showed me a few rocks that she had painted. At around the same time, I heard about a phenomenon called the Kindness Rocks movement (I wrote a blog post about it here. I tried my hand at painting a few rocks, and I was immediately hooked! There was something so satisfying about painting on this medium, but it was hard to explain. I could paint the same image on paper, but the process of painting on the rock was more rewarding. I began to build a collection of hand-painted rocks.”
You have a successful Etsy shop selling your inspirational painted rocks and Story Stones, How did your business come to be?
Laura: “After a bit, I realized that I had piles of painted rocks and wondered what to do with them. Friends and family seemed to enjoy them, so I considered attempting to sell them. I opened an Etsy shop and began by listing only 10 items. It took 3 weeks to get my first sale (that wasn’t a family member), and I can remember how excited I was. I literally danced around the house after hearing that first “cha-ching” sound through the Etsy app. For a year I continued to add listings to my shop, and my orders increased until I had reached 700 sales. Needless to say, I had not expected to sell much. I eventually realized that people are starving for words of kindness, encouragement, and affirmation, and these things are bestsellers in my shop. It makes me very happy to provide encouragement to someone through the simple medium of a painted rock.”
For some people who are not familiar with Story Stones, can you explain its purpose and how it’s used with children?
Laura: “I have a son with autism. He is completely nonverbal and manifests many of the typical symptoms of the condition, including difficulty with Pretend Play. This is hard to grasp since most of us “played pretend” throughout our childhoods. I wanted to create something for my rock shop that would help therapists work with children who have autism. I decided that Story Stones, which have been around for centuries, would be perfect. These are sets of rocks or pebbles that allow someone to tell a story in his or her own words. My Story Stones have been a great success. They are used by parents, therapists, and educators for a variety of purposes, including early literacy, pretend play, manual dexterity (fine motor skills), social skills, and for just plain fun! I have many different sets, including nursery rhymes, animals, numbers, seasons of the year, and holiday sets such as the Nativity, Thanksgiving, and Easter Story Stones.”
Walk me through your rock painting process?
Laura: “Now that my shop is so busy (I get several orders a day, and many more during holidays), my work process is dictated by the orders I am fulfilling on any given day. I begin with prepping my stones, which includes cleaning them and painting them with the base color of paint. Sometimes the base coat requires several layers, and I find it hard to be patient and wait for the paint to dry! I then do a pencil sketch of the design and begin painting. Once the paint is dry I usually like to outline my designs in black acrylic to make them “pop.” This is my signature style. Once the design is finished and dry, I spray them with a water-resistant acrylic sealant to protect them and to give them a shiny glaze.”
What’s your workspace setup like?
Laura: “My “workshop” is actually one end of my master bedroom! I am lucky in that the room is huge so I have enough space to make it work. I have a work table, a supply cabinet, several small tables that I use for drying rocks, and large bins that hold my “raw” stones. Happily, I have a television in the room so I can listen to my favorite programs while I paint! The laundry room is right near the master bedroom, and I use the utility sink in there to clean my rocks. I use a walk-in attic space off the master bedroom to spray the acrylic sealant at the end of my process. This is not ideal, but at least the space is ventilated and I can close the door to keep the smell at bay. If I ever win the lottery, I will build a true workshop for Alleluia Rocks! In the meantime, this setup works.”
What’s your best time-saving short-cut or rock painting hack?
Laura: “I mentioned that I am often impatient for the paint to dry. Sometimes I use a hair dryer to speed up the process. Also, if there is a design I use a lot, I will create a template using tracing paper and then transfer the image to a rock using transfer paper. This saves a lot of time. I also keep a 3-ring binder with color printouts of my designs so that I can refer to them as orders arrive (I paint most things “to order” because I can’t keep much inventory on hand.)”
What are your favorite tools and supplies to use when creating these beautiful inspirational rocks?
Laura: “Sadly, I don’t live in an area that has beautiful, smooth rocks that are ideal for painting. I, therefore, have to buy them. I get them from landscaping suppliers and online suppliers. I have often had to “think outside of the box” to get the perfect stone for a project! I use acrylic paints with paintbrushes, and I use acrylic pens as well. My favorite brand of acrylic paint pen is Posca, which I order from Amazon (they come from Japan, I think). Other paint pens smear when you apply sealant, and they also have terrible chemical smells. The Posca pens don’t smell, and they don’t smear as much as other pens. I use Triple Thick spray as the sealant. I tried a variety of brush-on sealants but they take too long to dry (also the process of brushing on a sealant can cause smears). I prefer the sprays.”
Besides acrylic, is there other mediums that you like to work with?
Laura: “I have used watercolors in the past (on watercolor paper), but I find that medium very unforgiving. You can’t easily fix a mistake with watercolors. With acrylics, you can paint over a mistake and start again. I have often re-painted a rock because I tend to be a perfectionist. If it’s not perfect, I re-apply the background color and start again. I also like that acrylics are water-soluble and easy to clean up.”
What inspires your creativity?
Laura: “I am inspired by nature, day-to-day life, and by my children. If I see something that makes me happy, I try to find a way to translate that into a painted rock. My inspiration is also guided by my customers. Many of the items in my shop were originally custom order requests. If one person wants something, it’s likely that more people will want it. Case in point: my sets of Boy Scout rocks. A friend asked me to paint a set featuring the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law. I did, then added it as a regular listing to my shop. Since then, I’ve sold over 65 sets! (Read more about it in my blog.”
What advice would you give to my beginner rock painting readers?
Laura: “When it comes to rock painting, there is no “wrong”! Paint what makes you smile. Use bright colors and have fun with it! Share your creations with others, whether that is participating in the Kindness Rocks movement, or just by giving your rocks away as gifts. A rock lasts forever; it symbolizes strength and empowerment, solidity and comfort. Spread a little kindness with your creations!”
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and if there are new things happening with Alleluia Rocks?
Laura: “I am happy to report that just last week I opened my standalone online shop for orders. This was a big step. I still have my Etsy shop, but I’m hoping my website will be a success as well. I have gotten one order so far, and that’s a start!”
Where can people purchase your Story Stones?
My website is called Alleluia Rocks and can be found here: https://www.alleluiarocks.com/
My Etsy shop link is: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AlleluiaRocks
I add several new listings each week, so there is always something new. Also, I’m always happy to take custom orders and love to hear from customers!
Ways to Use Story Stones
- Make story stones of your child’s favorite book and have an interactive read-a-long with your child.
- Get some physical exercise in too with a fun outside scavenger hunt. As your child find the story stones take turns making up a story to go with each stone found.
- Sneak in some learning with a fun matching game, sorting, pattern play, spelling, and math skills activity.
- Use in group settings to create fun stories, skits, or songs.
- Encourage good behavior and use story stones to communicate feelings.
- Use the story stones for creative storytelling such as sea life theme, play food for a play kitchen, jungle animal themes, outer space, holiday themes, and so much more!
Story Stones Benefits
- Promotes Critical Thinking
- Open-ended Play
- Great Sensory Tool
- Encourages Creative Thinking and Pretend Play
- Hands-on Learning
- Supports Physical and Social-Emotional Development
- Can be used for teaching math, science, and language skills.
- Encourages Literacy with Interactive Learning
- Fun to Arts & Craft Project
How to Make Story Stones
- Small flat rocks or pebbles
- Acrylic paint
- Paint brush
- Water in Jar
- Paint Pens * optional
- Pick a theme for your story stones.
- Paint or use paint pens to paint your theme on the rocks. Let dry completely.
- Seal rocks with a spray sealer to protect them from scratches and nicks.
- Let the fun begin!
Another method is decoupaging. Find and cut out small images on paper and brush on mod podge to decoupage the paper to the rocks. Even stickers is an easy solution!
20 Rock Painting Ideas for Story Stones
Here are some Helpful Rock Painting Articles
That’s All Folks!
Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this guide and are excited to try out some ways to use story stones. I enjoy putting it together look forward to adding more story stone ideas over time.
A Special Thanks…
To Laura Kane for sharing her rock painting journey with us. Be sure to check out her website and Etsy store.
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts on rock painting.
Arts and Craft Blogger
Serving up awesome rock painting tips, tutorials, and encouraging kindness through creativity. Poke around my site and get inspired.