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With summer behind us and Indian Summer at its height, my children and I have been enjoying quieter time at the beach, in our yard and on walks.

Everywhere we go, there seems to be one thing in common—rocks! So, I got to thinking…How might a sensory diet be enriched by rocks?

From the tiniest pebbles to the biggest boulders, discover seven fun ideas for kids to enhance their sensory diet with simple rocks.

Music & Math with Rock Rhythms

Collect a variety of smaller pebbles and stones. Put some of these in lidded containers, such as recyclable plastic jars or oatmeal containers.

For fine motor fun, decorate the outsides of the containers using stickers or markers.

Then, use even greater fine motor control by sewing together two foam plates that have holes punched through the edges. Once the edges are almost all the way sewn together, add small rocks between the plates to make your own tambourine shaker.

Use your homemade instruments to have a rock rhythm parade for auditory input – keying into the patterns of rhythms for mathematical fun.

Exploration through Rolling Rocks

Get muscles moving and garner proprioceptive input by having everyone search out a medium sized rock.

Bring these medium rocks atop an incline, and on “go”, set them rolling down the hill.

Watch the rocks as they roll. Do some roll easier than others? How about faster? Further? Where do they stop? Run down, collect the rocks and try again. Switch the original rocks with ones that are bigger, smaller, smoother or rounder. Do the unique qualities of a rock make its track down an incline different than that of other rocks?

Auditory Predictions with Kerplink-Kerplunk

Collect a large pile of rocks of varying sizes. Then, stand by a shoreline, a kiddie pool or puddle, and begin tossing them in one by one. What sound does each rock make? A tiny, rippling kerplink or a big, splashing kerplunk? Predict the sound each rock in your pile will make and then test your theory.  Great activity for auditory discrimination, too!

Rock Washing

Collect a variety of rocks – with different shades of color and designs.

Choose one to make a still-life sketch of.  Exercise those fine motor muscles and use paint, crayons or markers to fill in details of your still-life, capturing the varying shades of color, lines or patterns on the rock you chose to replicate.

Then, for a sensational tactile experience, fill a dishpan about halfway with water. With a sponge, rock, and liquid soap, let the fun unfold.

Something about sudsing up stones with soapy water, noting how the the color and design of the rocks is enhanced by washing them, appeals to many children. Once the rocks are clean and shiny, do another still-life.  Ask the kids, what is different about the rocks when they are wet as opposed to dry?

Stone Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of things you might find under a rock – more rocks, soil, grass, salamanders, worms, ants, etc.

Then, turn over stones.  Turn over big stone for proprioceptive input and small stones for fine motor pincer skills.  Discover whether your list is under the rock.  Discuss what different living creatures do when their stony hiding places are discovered. Why do you think they hang out under rocks?

Learning Rocks

For more fine motor fun, decide if you want to make number rocks or letter rocks.

Then, go out and search for small, smooth stones.

On each stone paint a letter or numeral.  Or, use stickers and mod podge.

Use these as manipulatives for simple spelling and math games.

Boulder Jump

For some gross motor fun, scramble up big boulders and jump off them. Add some academic review, by shouting out part of a series of learned material with each jump – times tables, alphabet letters, skip counting, almost any sequential memorization items work with this.

As you stroll through the park, the beach or even your back yard this fall – take a fresh look at rocks and all the sensory fun you can have with them!  Enhance your sensory diet with simple rocks!

Do you have ideas to share?  Please share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Martianne is a homeschooling mom with over 20 years of experience in education, youth work and dramatic arts both in the United States and abroad. With certifications as a Middle School Generalist and English 8-12 teacher, plus a drawer full of certificates from a wide variety of professional development workshops and graduate courses, she brings a comprehensive "traditional" background to her present-day creative pursuits. Visit Martianne at Training Happy Hearts.