Paint your perfect pet

Pet rocks are a great way to combine creativity and added learning opportunities

Discovery Place Nature

There is a time in just about every parent’s life when the inevitable question arises from the kids: Can we have a pet?

Whether or not you are willing to entertain the idea of bringing home a pet, the request for one provides a great opportunity to engage kids’ curiosity about animals. And painting pet rocks allows you to explore all kinds of animals with your little ones, including those that make good pets, ones that would not do well living inside a home and even magical animals that only exist in fairytales.

You can gather rocks of any shape or size to create your pets, just be sure children are finding them in spaces where taking them home is allowed. You may even have leftover landscaping rocks lying around that serve as perfect canvases for these critter creations.

Use acrylic paint (in a variety of colors) for best results and, if you have it, consider giving the final products a clear coat to protect them from chipping and wearing. Paint brushes of all different sizes are useful so kids can paint an entire rock with larger brushes and then use smaller brushes for tinier details (think eyes, spots, stripes, etc.).

Rock painting is a great activity to set up outside, with your rocks and paint as well as a cup of water (for washing brushes between paint colors) and paper towels. Make clean-up easier by having the kids place their rock on a paper plate while painting their pets.

Help your kids decide what animal they want to create and encourage them to take their time picking the best rock shape for their chosen animal. Add to the learning by looking up a few fun facts about the animals they select and discussing those as the kids get ready to paint their new pets. Sharing physical attributes of the selected animals can help guide and inspire their painting efforts.

Whether you end up with a table full of rock fish, dogs, owls or snakes, you will be able to have great conversations about what would make each animal a good pet (or what would not – hello, fire-breathing dragon!).

Let the kids display their pets in their rooms or somewhere else within your home. If you have a few extra pet rocks, take them along on your next family walk and tuck them into crevices and corners along the way where others can enjoy them, too.

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