My son, Thomas, loves to collect interesting things he finds on the pathways that we hike around our neighborhood. We’ve even made him a box where he stashes his treasures, which currently include three acorns, a few shiny pebbles, a styrofoam bird, and a little stuffed skunk.
But now, what we’re really on the lookout for are kindness rocks. Have you heard about this new craze, sweeping towns from Cape Cod, MA to Cape May, NJ this summer? Basically, kids and parents are gathering up smooth rocks, painting them with colorful or inspiration designs, and placing them throughout nature for people to discover.
Yesterday, my youngest son and I got in on the fun, painting some rocks after he was finished with camp for the day. I loved the idea that we could do a craft that had a life and purpose beyond mouldering alongside the art projects that I still haven’t organized from the last day of school.
I leaned toward rainbows, he tended toward spiders and Pollock-esque polka dots, but we both had a really nice time painting, and talking about where we were going to plant our creations and who neighbor Chloe? mailperson Barb?—might come upon them.
This morning, just after a rainstorm, we decided to plant a rainbow rock at the edge of the pond at the end of our street. My son was a little sad to part with it, but ultimately decided that it’s sometimes even more fun to give than receive. A lesson as valuable in the heat of summer as at holiday time.
Some tips about creating and distributing your kindness rocks:
If you can’t find relatively smooth rocks in your immediate area, hardware and garden supply stores sell smooth gray rocks (often called Mexican Beach pebble, $11 at Amazon for 30 lbs.), which are perfect for the project, at a very low price.-Acrylic paint like this colorful sampler ($8, Amazon), with small brushes like these ($6, Amazon), work great. Invest in a spray can of clar UV/moisture protecting spray (like Krylon’s Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating aerosol spray, $10 at Amazon), which will protect your designs from the elements.
Refrain from putting your rocks in national parks, or any other public spaces that have a “leave no trace” policy. Think about well-trod pathways around ponds and woodlands, or even grassy parks or playgrounds, near you.
A health and parenting journalist, Kelley King Heyworth writes a blog, Happy Healthy Kids, is the editor of Mommy Poppins Boston, and contributes to a variety of national magazines. She’s the parent of three boys.