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What are story stones?

The short answer to this question is that story stones are sets of painted/pictured stones that are used to tell a story.

Each stone has a picture prompt such as a character, scene or object to assist the compilation of a whole story. You may choose to use a children’s storybook to create a set and add personalised differences to enable an extra element or paint random objects and characters for your story telling.

Children love participating in rock painting using our Life of Colour paint pens and this is a perfect group activity!

To create your own “open ended” set of story stones we also have a simple guide for you to follow.

Making Unique Story stones

Follow this “open ended” formula to create your own set of story stones for your children:

Characters

You want a mixture of different characters to enable a story to take place. Examples are things like animals- cat, rabbit, frog, birds. Add characters like a prince, princess, wizard, witch or a dragon to make things interesting 

Setting

The setting can be scenes or magical places. Good examples would be things like a spooky cave, a castle, a dark wood, the sea, countryside or township.

Problem

These are basically bad things that may occur during a story. Think of things such as a poisoned apple, a fire, a huge wave, a sea serpent, or a baddie can be a problem. Creating things like zombies, ghosts, wolves and crocodiles really help make some imaginative problems.

Resolution

These are things that will sort out the problem. Examples of resolutions are things such as a rainbow, a unicorn, a magic key, a wand, or a letter. A little bit of magic often helps things along.

Materials

All you need to create your first story stones set is a collection of rocks and one of our rock painting kits, they are available with Afterpay with free postage in Australia and a flat rate of $6 to New Zealand.

If you want to know the basics about rock prepping, sealing and where to buy rocks in Australia or NZ, read this introduction to rock painting post first to get acquainted with the new medium, and then get back here.

Using the story stone sets 

The Story Bag method as a way to foster story telling

A popular way to start out is using a Story Bag - stones can be stored in a bag together and used to be able to randomly pick out stones making a simple way of getting the children started using story stones.

The idea is to have a selection of story stones, and put them in a bag. Then you get a child to take one stone out and you start a story. Then the next child takes a stone out and you continue it a sentence at a time.

You may need to prompt some ideas to start with until the children get the hang of it.

If your story stones are based on a children’s book you might like to first read the story then introduce the stones in a variety of ways to support the whole learning experience.

Another way to evoke individual storytelling is to choose one stone per child and allow them to write or tell their own story based on the stone.

Children’s memory games

All time favourites include having children sit in a circle and getting a rock each which they do not show to the others. The aim is to compile a long shopping list together saying “I went to the shop and bought a…” adding to the shopping list with every rock the children have selected. It’s easy being the first item on the list but by the time the last child has their turn the list gets quite tricky to remember and recite.

Change the Story

After one person uses a selection of stones to tell a story, pass the same stones to another person. They will then use the same stones to tell a different story. Compare/contrast the different stories.

In Order

Have the child choose 3-5 rocks. Place them in a line on the table, and have the child use the stones in order to tell a story. When done, using the same stones, change the order and ask the child to tell a new story based on the changed order.

Themed Story

Before the children pick stones from the bag, give them a theme to start the story. “One day on our vacation…” “In my dream last night…” “It was the best day ever…”

Sorting/Classifying

Provide children with a large handful of stones and ask them to sort the stones in any way that they want. Will they sort by colour? Animals together? Things that are soft? Things you use in the house? There are no wrong ways to sort!

What Doesn’t Belong?

Just like the Sesame Street game! Provide the child with a small group of rocks with a similar theme…and one thing that doesn’t relate (cat, dog, bus, tiger). Ask the child to determine the item that does not belong in the group and get them to tell you why. 

Sequencing

Encourage children to sequence their stories by using phrases like: “first” “then” “after that” “next” and “finally”.

Other educational art ideas for using and creating your Life of Colour story stones:

  • Encourage Artistic ability: paint abstract shaped and coloured stones.
  • Create character and animal stones for farm play.
  • Replicate characters linked to a classroom favourite storybook.
  • Make assorted stones in free play such as items of food to be used in the kitchenette.
  • Experimentation and science: Balance the stones on something for learning about cause and effect, which ones slide or roll.
  • Use stones to weigh and compare sizes.

Some Benefits of Using Story Stones

Developing Oral storytelling skills: Telling stories helps foster imagination and creativity and increases vocabulary.

Listening and communicating: Having children listen to others telling stories strengthens their comprehension and listening skills. 

Communication between peers can be supported by getting children to make a positive comment about the story told.

Comprehension and recollection : Ask various questions about what happened in the story, test to see if they were listening and paying attention this will also prompt them to think about “why” things happened.

Social Situations: Stones can be used to work through personal experiences such as bullying. Problem solving situations together and helping to see the perspective of others.

Creative Writing: Story stones can be used to give ideas to children when they are stuck coming up with ideas for writing, the story can be written down and later shared with others.

Visual Arts: Use as inspiration when drawing a picture. Choose a handful of rocks and include any or all of them in a drawing. Children can also paint new rocks to add to the collection to extend the story further.

Sensory Experience: This is particularly suitable for children of a young age or those that require resources supporting their sensory needs. Provide colourful images, different shapes, sizes, and textures of stones.

Dramatic Play: Act out a story by using the stones as “finger puppets” and adding different voices for the characters. The addition of other objects like a puppeteer stage, cars, animals and building blocks may be helpful.

Most of all don’t forget to have fun! Block out all of the drama of life. Children’s learning capabilities improve in a fun and happy environment.

Create your own story stones!

If you're interested in following a specific example, we have created a set of stones with our Life of Colour acrylic paint pens referencing the beloved book “Diary of a Wombat”, written by Jackie French with illustrations by Bruce Whatley.

 Next step: create your first story stones! 

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