Rock Projects for Community Connection
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Years ago I was introduced to the Rock Project by one of my feeding therapy clients. A sweet 6-year-old with cerebral palsy made me a rock painted with ‘xo’ (which is something I am known to write before I sign my name in cards, notes and emails to remind others that I love them). This gesture was extremely meaningful to me. This lovely girl can barely hold on to a spoon, and I can only imagine the effort it took to hold a paintbrush and make this gift! Her mom explained to me that they are a part of a community that spreads kindness by painting rocks and leaving them for friends, loved ones and even strangers. Kindness is such a powerful message to teach your kids, especially during this time of social distancing. Here are a few tips to get you started on your own Rock Project!
Teaching Connection: The Kindness Rocks Project aims to spread connection through art. Their goals are to 1) touch others through randomly placed rocks and 2) inspire those touched by the rock to perform another random act of kindness. In short, by leaving rocks with inspiring messages your kids can boost your community's morale during this uncertain time.
Teaching Kindness: In order for young children to grasp this project, we first have to teach them about kindness. When I teach toddlers about the concept of kindness, I do it in three easy steps, which I call the 3 E’s to Kindness: empathy, example and event.
- Empathy: It’s easy to introduce the concept of empathy to toddlers. Since they are always scraping a knee or wanting a snack, we have ample opportunities to teach this skill! First, we want our kids to learn how to label their own feelings. Then, we can help them learn to understand someone else’s feelings too. I teach empathy by encouraging a different thought process: “Oh, Johnny fell off the slide really hard. What would you want someone to do or say if you fell?”
- Example: Be an example for your kids by showing them how to be patient in stressful situations or kind when you are in a rush. Use the "stay home" initiative as an opportunity to model kindness in your own home.
- Event: Finding an event that the whole family can participate in to learn about kindness can be a difficult task, as most organizations and facilities are closed. But they can certainly attend a home crafting event and paint rocks!
Teaching Creativity: The exciting part about this project is that it’s easy to implement, inexpensive, and fun for the whole family! There are a variety of ways to create an inspirational message. Here are a few examples:
- Word Rocks: This is where you paint just one powerful word on your rock to give a passerby a meaningful message. Some kid favorites are smile, love, breathe, hug, peace and laugh.
- Quote Rocks: These are inspiring quotes, thoughts, bible verses or mantras. Some common ones are: be kind, try again, find your peace, you got this, love is patient and, of course, wash your hands!
- Theme Rocks: These are rocks painted for a theme or event like Springtime, Easter or Mother's Day. These rocks can help give a child hope when they are lonely or missing their friends from school.
- Food Rocks: If you have a child who is picky about some of the foods they eat, this is a great art project! Have your kiddo paint their favorite foods or foods they want to learn how to eat. Or, they can write silly food quotes like ‘Let’s Taco Bout it!’ or ‘Life is better with pizza’ or ‘Good food = good mood.’
Teaching Art: Even if crafting is not your thing, you can teach your kids how to do this easy rock art project. You only need the below supplies to get started:
Rocks, non-toxic spray paint, paint pens, non-toxic sealant, paint brush
First, find some flat rocks in your yard or local park that are smooth and easy to write on. If you can’t find any just purchase them at a local craft store. Next, wash your rocks to remove any dirt or grime and let dry. Spray your rocks with non-toxic paint to seal the rock and make it easier to write on. Then use paint pens to inscribe and draw your inspiration. (I find that the oil based Sharpie paint pens are easiest for kids and come in a variety of colors). Lastly, protect your art by applying a coat of non-toxic sealant.
Be sure to add the hashtag #TheKindnessRocksProject to the back of each rock if you and your kids want to join this movement. Take pictures and share your creations online too!
We hope you enjoy this craft project with your kids and appreciate the spirit of The Kindness Rocks Project, especially during this time. When you make a rock creation with your family, tag us in your pic! #ezpzfun #TheKindnessRocksProject #socialdistancing
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).