Some Benefits of Using Story Stones:
Oral story telling: Telling stories helps foster imagination and creativity and increases vocabulary.
Listening Skills: Have children listen to others telling stories with the stones. When done, they can make a positive comment about the story told.
Comprehension: Ask various questions about what happened in the story. Ask both facts and questions that will prompt them to think about “why” things happened.
Social Situations: Stones can be used to work through personal experiences, problem solve , explore fears and concerns, and see the perspective of others.
Creative Writing: Can be used to give ideas to children when they are stuck coming up with ideas for writing. Instead of orally telling the story, the story can be written down.
Visual Arts: Use as inspiration when drawing a picture. Choose a handful of rocks and include any or all of them in a drawing. Children can also paint new rocks to add to the collection. Children can draw/paint 2D backdrops or 3D dioramas for use with the rocks.
Sensory Experience: Provide a rich sensory experience with colourful images, different shapes, sizes, and textures of stones, and sounds of the stones clacking together.
Dramatic Play: Act out a story by using the stones as “finger puppets” and adding different voices for the characters. The addition of other toys (cars, animals, etc.) may be helpful.
Ways to Use Story Stones:
Tell Me a Story (Random): Have the child randomly pick 3-5 stones. Arrange them on the table and tell a story using all of the images. (Older children can use more stones).
Tell Me a Story (Choice): Have the child thoughtfully look through the stones and choose 3-5 that they would like to use in a story. Arrange them on the table and tell a story using all of the images.
Team Work Story: With partners or small groups, take turns taking one stone. Each person will tell part of the story, using either one of the images on the stone. The next person will continue the same story, but adding in the image on their stone. Place the stones in a row on the table as each is added. Continue until all the stones are used up, until you’ve reached a pre-determined number of stones, or until the players start to lose interest.
Story Circle: In a small group, each person takes 2 rocks from the bag (either randomly or by choice). One person starts the story with one of their stones and places it on the table. Play passes to the next person and the next stone is added to the table. Each person will have 2 turns, and the last person gives an ‘ending’ to the story.
Trilogy Story: With 3 players, give each person the same number of stones (4-8 each). Each person uses all of their stones at once to tell a part of a story. The first person will tell the beginning of the story, the second person must incorporate their stones into the same story and tell the middle. The last person must try to use their stones to end the story and tie up any loose ends if possible. (Players can choose to use the images on either side of their stones.)
Change the Story: After one person uses a selection of stones to tell a story, pass the same stones to another person. They will then use the same stones to tell a different story. Compare/contrast the different stories.
In Order: Have the child choose 3-5 rocks. Place them in a line on the table, and have the child use the stones in order to tell a story. When done, using the same stones, change the order and ask the child to tell a new story based on the changed order.
Themed Story: Before the children pick stones from the bag, give them a theme to start the story. “One day on our vacation…” “In my dream last night…” “It was the best day ever…”
Sorting/Classifying: Provide children with a large handful of stones and ask them to sort the stones in any way that they want. Will they sort by colour? Animals together? Things that are soft? Things you use in the house? There are no wrong ways to sort!
What Doesn’t Belong? Provide the child with a small group of rocks with a similar theme…and one thing that doesn’t relate (cat, dog, bus, tiger). Ask the child to determine the item that does not belong.
Sequencing: Encourage children to sequence their stories by using phrases like: “first” “then” “after that” “next” and “finally”.
Personal Experiences: Stones can be used to safely explore personal experiences and work through problems. Provide a careful selection of stones that may relate to the experiences or emotions of the specific situation. (To encourage realistic problem solving, do not include any fantasy themed stones).
Retelling a Story: Provide new stones that fit in with Fairy Tales or Nursery Rhymes. Children can use these themed stones to remember and retell their favourite stories.
Phonics (Letter Sounds): Show the children a small selection of rocks. Can they point out the rock that starts with a “k” sound (cat/kite)?
Phonological Awareness (Phoneme Segmenting and Blending): Place a stone on the table and help the child determine how many individual sounds are heard in the word. First segment the sounds, then blend together. CAT (3) – c/a/t – FISH (3)- f/i/sh – SHOE (2) –sh/oe
COW (2) – c/ow – TRAIN (4) – t/r/ai/n – PENCIL (5) – p/e/n/c/il – CLOCK (4) – c/l/o/ck
Free Play: Allow the children to explore the stones without any rules or structure! Add a selection of story stones to other play areas: blocks, Lego, toy animals, sand box, etc.
How to Make Your Own:
- Collect Rocks: Rocks or stones can be purchased from a store, or found in parks and alleys, at the beach, and your own backyard! Children love to be a part of finding and collecting rocks to paint. Smooth, flat rocks of a small-to-medium size work best.
- Make a List of Desired Images: I tried to have a variety of Places (city, beach, castle, cave), Objects (compass, map, balloon, pencil, camera, envelope), Animals (owl, cat, dinosaur, bear), Transportation (train, boat, rocket, bus), Fantasy (dragon, monster, alien, ghost), and Food (ice cream, cupcake). The possibilities are endless and can be customized to the needs/interests of your children or students.
- Wash and Dry Rocks: Using dish soap, scrub any dirt or debris off of the rocks and let them dry thoroughly.
- Paint Images: Using a fine brush, acrylic craft paint and a steady hand, paint your desired images. Clip art images on the Internet can be used for inspiration and a drawing guide. Allow images to dry, and then outline and add fine details with a permanent marker. Apply a clear varnish and allow to dry for several days before use.
- Place finished rocks into a small container or fabric bag.
- **I did my rocks double sided. This allowed a choice in each rock that the child selected, and reduced the number of rocks needed.**
Note: Painting the rocks to make Story Stones is only one option. If you’d rather, find clip art on the internet, cut to size, and use Modge Podge sealing glue to attach onto the rock.
Happy Story Telling! 🙂