You don’t need fancy toys to engage your kids. They can play and learn with just about anything!
I walked to the waterfall with my husband and two of our kids recently. As my husband was taking pictures, my six-year-old was starting to grow restless. So I asked her to stack some rocks.
I figured she’d stack them once and then be done. But, she kept working on her creations. As she played, I realized there was some major learning going on!
Benefits of Stacking Rocks
Stacking rocks is simple. All you need are some rocks and a surface to stack them on. So head outside and let your kids gather up rocks. Then challenge them to stack them. They’ll be:
1. Learn about balance
You can’t just throw rocks on top of each other and expect them to stick. Rather, you must set them carefully, achieving balance.
As your child stacks, she’ll likely have to readjust, while learning:
- Smaller rocks work best on top of bigger rocks
- The flat side of angled rocks fits best on flat surfaces
- Building is easier on a flat surface
- You can increase balance by a change in placement
2. Improve observation skills
To figure out where each rock fits best, children must look at the rocks. As they look at the shape and size of each rock, they’re using the power of observation.
3. Connect with nature
Being outside benefits children in more ways than I can explain. Stacking rocks is an outside activity, and requires picking up rocks. It’s a very grounding experience!
Here’s my six-year-old with one of her rock stacks near the waterfall.
4. Boost creativity
Stacking rocks might not seem all that enjoyable. But, when you sprinkle in a little creativity, it’s a game changer!
Your child can:
- Try to build a house
- Create the tallest tower of rocks possible
- Use different surfaces as the starting point
- Build a rock monster
- Use two rocks at the bottom, like pillars, and build on top of that
- Build blindfolded, relying on the sense of touch
Creative thinking is a soft skill that children will need in the future, so it’s important to inspire it now.
5. Build geology skills
Rocks are everywhere! What kind do you have in your area? You can talk to your child about some basic geology in your locale.
To let your child learn more, have her:
- Sort the rocks before stacking
- Look for patterns in rocks
- Describe the color of each rock
- Look for common speckles or other identifying features
- Drop a rock and see if it fractures
- Use one rock to scratch another to test hardness
In short, rock stacking is an easy, inexpensive way to build STEM skills!
Have you ever stacked rocks?
Rock stacking rocks! Give it a try if you haven’t! I’d love to hear about your experience, or see pictures of your stacks in the comments.
Photo credit: Deniz Altindas via Unsplash
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