Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

Apparently, I have the painted rocks “bug”!  After making pet rocks with my preschool kiddos and number rocks with Engineer, I had another idea to try.  For this go, I wanted a larger collection of rocks.  This way, I could use them to extend my preschoolers’ knowledge of shapes and colors, along with patterns and sorting.  This is how the rainbow shape rocks were born!

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

Please forgive me in advance if they aren’t as pretty and well-painted as they could be!  As the Laurie Berkner Band says . . . “I’m not perfect, but I’ve got what I’ve got.”  Yes, I’m showing my preschool teacher stripes again!  :)

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

To make the rainbow shape rocks, I grabbed all of the acrylic paint I had on-hand.  I’m one of those people who picks up art supplies when they are heavily discounted or just a few bits at a time.  It’s amazing how much accrues over time, just doing that!  I had a lot of colors to choose from, so I settled on using all of the basic colors young children need to learn — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, brown, black, and gray.  I didn’t have brown or gray, so I picked up brown paint and just made my own version of gray.

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

Once the acrylic paints were all over nicely laid out on my kitchen table, I grabbed the rocks.  Again, river rocks are often found in my craft closet.  I settled on making 3 rocks of each color, so I made sure I had more than 33 rocks.  That definitely wasn’t a problem!  Engineer had a good stash too, as he was painting his own rocks alongside me.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering why there are two versions of blue, that was Engineer’s doing.  So I ended up with a total of 36 rocks!

From there, it was just a  matter of painting the rocks.  I painted both sides of the rocks with a few coats of paint each.  Obviously, this didn’t happen in just one day.  It was done in spurts of 20 to 30 minutes when I got the chance!

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

Once the rocks were super colorful, I went back and added shapes to one side of each rock.  Again, I focused on shapes that young children are familiar with or need to learn — square, triangle, rectangle, circle, oval, diamond/rhombus, star, crescent, and heart.  I wasn’t going to include a crescent at first, but Engineer suggested it.  With 4 of each shape, that ensured that all 36 of my rocks had a shape.

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

After everything was dry, I did end up going back with a clear acrylic sealer.  This way, the paint should last longer when little ones are playing with them!  This is the only picture I took of the sealed versions — they look the same, but shinier!  :)

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

Yes, 36 sounds like a ton of rocks!  However, I want to be able to use these rainbow shape rocks with my preschool class in a variety of ways.  Having so many will help me work on a variety of math skills with the kids.  Below are some of the ways my students will be able to use the rocks.  I’m sure the preschoolers will come up with MANY more ways to use these rocks!!

  • Sort by color and by shape
  • Create patterns with the colors and with the shapes
  • Identify the shapes and colors
  • Put the colors in rainbow order
  • Match the colors to items around the classroom
  • Search out shapes that correlate with the shapes on the rocks
  • Count the rocks

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

Why use rocks to teach shapes and colors, along with other math concepts?  Oh, there are so many reasons to do so!!  Because children love playing with rocks.  Because having rocks inside the classroom is a different experience, making it more memorable.  Because rocks feel different — their textures, shapes, and weights create a unique learning experience integrating different senses.  Basically, because they’re fun!

How have you used rocks with your children/students?  I’m always up for new ideas, so please share in the comment section below!!  :)

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks

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