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5 ways & 5 tips to transform stones into story stones for hands on early literacy.

Stones can be collected for FREE and in the teaching world this is GOLD. You can use them in story baskets or as story starters and this is why they are included in my FREE e-booklet for a story basket foundation box.

How to transform them into story stones is the tricky part. There are 5 ways and 5 tips along the way.

The 5 ways are:

  • paint (you or the children)

  • stickers

  • photocopied paper

  • temporary tattos

  • natural

I began collecting stones from a young age and am always on the lookout for heart shaped ones! But heart shaped stones are not the best for story stones, you need smooth and flat or flattish stones. I get mine from a beach that is rough and un-swimmable, you can also get them from rivers. You can buy them from garden shops but they are often small and polished which can be harder to work with.

You have your stones but now what! If you can paint you are set! You can use any acrylic paint and seal them. I often use test posts BUT find paint pens the easiest and less messy (tip one). I have cheap Kmart ones and more expensive POSCA ones and both work well. The POCSCA ones however have a finer tip and make it easier to do details.

Here are my attempts at painting, the first time I tried I painted simple symbols on them for Kei te pehea koe? The next time was for a favourite story the colour monster and I wasn't too sure how they would turn out and made some felt colour monsters just in case ;) I needn't have worried as the children LOVED them but great to have both in my e-pattern for the colour monster. The last photo are stones I bought from a a talented painter!

Here are the stones in a story basket.

I have heard you can use sharpies as well but I have not tried this. I think you would need to put a base colour under them before drawing on them (and also for the drawing to stand out). Before painting you can either seal the stone or scuff it with sandpaper if polished, this is also a good idea if attaching paper images (tip two).

Can’t paint (like me 😉) then you can use stickers or print images and attach them to your stones. There are some AWESOME sticker books out for Julia Donaldson books like Monkey puzzle tree, the snail and the whale, sharing shell and Gruffalo. I have shared the story disks I made with the Gruffalo stickers and story stones are still on my list (there are enough stickers to to both in the book)

I have bought a set of story stones for Dear Zoo that are the shiny garden centre stones. The stones I have seen recommended are from Bunnings but were from an Australian teacher who recommended them and I have not been able to find them in New Zealand.

I have not attempted to make these as I have not found any big enough that I want to use.The ones I bought are beautiful but a little smaller than I would like. The key to making stones with stickers or photocopied paper is to seal the stone and then seal over the image well. You need several layers of mod podge over the image (tip three). I have highlighted the gloss mod podge but I use the matte mod podge on my disks and peg dolls (tip four). This helps to prevent them being picked off BUT if you have a child is a sensory seeker in this way then there will be no stopping them. For the pickers it may be better to use tattoos.

Temporary tattoos are cheap and fast to apply and use. The trick to using them is selecting the right colour stone, sealing them first with mod podge gives you a better idea (tip five). You can see in the images that some stones worked better than others. In the story basket the stones can be used for telling the story with vehicles for Roadworks or you could add them too. I love using these as story starters to encourage storytelling with loose parts and imagination and the Sally Sutton series is brilliant for encouraging more language and early literacy in play.

You can of course invite the children to paint stones to use in story baskets and story centred play. I often introduce this by using water first and then paint.

The final way I use stones is just as they are! They are perfect for adding texture and authenticity to a story basket, small world or story suitcase. They work well with our e -pattern for te Ra and whakapapa narratives about Maui I have a collection or white, black and grey stones that I use just as they are.

This is the 6th blog covering items in the story basket foundation box, (you can get the FREE e-booklet here) the others ones have hack and tips for peg dolls, story disks, transforming wooden spoons to story spoons, making your own peg dolls or wood buddies and why a cloth is so important in a story basket. You will also find many more blogs on story baskets and story centred play.

Until next time


P.S. there are affiliate links in this blog and if you use then then I may get some moolah.

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