Hot Rocks: Your guide to the painted rocks craze
Over the last couple of months my kids have found a few painted rocks out on their journeys and they've really wanted to do some too. The craze is like one big treasure hunt in which you're encouraged to find painted rocks and then rehide them so the game continues. After a bit of research into the most kid-friendly ways to paint rocks we've been trying it out for ourselves. In all honesty I can't remember the last time an activity kept my kids so quiet and happy as this, and it's a great way to encourage the kids to get out and about too.
Where to find rocks to paint
We live near a few beaches but don't take rocks from them, instead ours are from our garden (given a quick clean and left to dry) or ones I've noticed when we've been out and about - one I found in a car park! If you can't find any rocks around then you can buy them on Amazon or sometimes DIY or gardening shops will sell them. Large rocks with a flattish side work well, but any shape will do.
How to create your own painted rocks
There are two main ways to paint rocks, either using acrylic paints or using special pens. Both kids are more skilled with a pen as it's what they're used to (and to be honest my painting is pretty bad too) so we opted for these. A common choice are permanent pens such as Sharpies but with young kids I knew that I didn't want anything permanent, a quick chat with some friends for advice included them sharing tips on how to get permanent stains off their dining tables (pretty unlikely apparently) and if you can see my daughters arms in any pictures then you might also see that she got those covered in green ink, not a great look.
For that reason I opted for Posca pens instead, I think these are slightly more scratchy to use than some other pens but I've had a lot of experience in getting the ink off kids, chairs, tables and a fireplace (don't ask) so I'm much happier with that choice. Before we started I painted a rock to give my kids an idea of what to do and I also wrote the name of our local Facebook rock hunting group on the back. It's common to include some sort of instructions on the back for what you want the finder to do next, in this case, it was to share a photo to our local Facebook group so we could see if it had been found!
I went for hearts and spots to try and encourage my kids to do simple achievable designs and my kids? Well my daughter drew a rainbow with a Star Wars TIE Fighter flying next to it and my son drew a scene out of Harry Potter so we achieved normal levels of listening to my advice there...
Varnishing your painted rocks
To varnish our rocks I used PlastiKote Clear Super Gloss Clear Sealer which is a spray varnish - this stops all your designs disappearing if they get rained on! As this is an aerosol spray you'll want to use it outside and well away from the kids, I used a plastic bag to protect my garden from getting varnished too.
Where to hide painted rocks
I think there are two ways to look at hiding your rocks: firstly you can really hide them so that someone has really got to try hard to find them. Secondly you can put them somewhere a bit easy so they'll actually be found again, personally I'm more of a fan of the second option!
If you're not already a member of your local rock hunting group then make sure to look for one on Facebook - a quick search of your town or county's name and rocks in the search bar normally does the trick and you'll often see that a lot of your local friends are in whatever the most busy local one for you is. Hopefully when your rocks are found someone will share a picture in the group and it's fun for your kids to see their design being found.
As a general rule places not to hide rocks are at the bottom of lamp posts etc (because dogs, no one wants their kids picking that up) or anywhere that an excited kid is going to run straight towards that could be dangerous (right next to roads, canals etc) but other than that it's good fun to have a look for sneaky places to put them. An added bonus is that if there's rock hunting or hiding involved my kids are a lot more keen to go for a walk and less likely to moan that their legs hurt - a little miracle in itself!
We hid our rocks on a walk home from school after our car ended up stuck in the garage and even though it was over a mile on a boiling hot day they bounded along without compaints (well, at least until we ran out of rocks). Hopefully they'll turn up soon again but even if we don't we had a great time make and hiding them and I know it's something that will keep my kids entertained for a long time yet!
4 takeaway tips for hiding painted rocks:
- Don't hide rocks close to roads or other dangers, like canals or lakes.
- Remember to write instructions on the back for whoever finds it, something like share a photo and then rehide works well.
- Don't make your hiding place too hard - you want it to be found after all!
- Make sure you hide them in public spaces, not private property.
Other craft ideas for kids:
*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases will not cost you any extra, but we may get some commission into our piggy bank in return. All affiliate partners are carefully chosen, and they've been included as we think you'll like them!