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Learning Through Pebble Play

DSCF8856Our ancient ancestors’ earliest evolution started with a rock in hand and our relationship with stones, rocks and pebbles started as one of survival. The urge to hold, stroke and sort stones is primal. So it makes perfect sense that your child finds playing with rocks, pebbles or small stones naturally fascinating. Here’s how to make pebbles a great opportunity for learning through play.

Sensory Play with Pebbles

Children learn through touch. Sensory play is a normal but also a powerful way for a child to learn. Pebbles allow the child to feel shapes, texture and size. Offer a range of pebbles and stones. Gathering and arranging pebbles doesn’t just develop the obvious motor skills but the feel of a pebble is irresistible to a child – the act of touching and the sensation it brings is an important opportunity for self expression and discovery.

Art Play with Pebbles

Sorting and resorting pebbles into groups of colour, shape or size becomes an exercise in creativity. In fact pebble sorting is a form of learning through art, which is one of the basic tenets of children learning through play and it’s many benefits are well researched in early childhood science. Art experiences help build confidence and create engaged learners.

Add Paint to Pebble Play

Adding paints to the pebble play will intensify the art aspect of the experience. Transforming the stones by painting them can offer new worlds to the child. Encourage the use of paints by saying: “try the paints and see what happens with colour”. Allow plenty of time for the child to work on their rock painting. Ask open-ended questions like: “why are you choosing that colour for that stone?”, “what other things are the same colour as that stone?” Observe if their pebbles are painted with faces, are painted to become animals, completely covered in paint or received more than one coloured paint. Consider laying some paper down first and then encourage the child to paint on the paper and arrange the stones in and around the painting. Using two different forms of artistic  expression will heighten the benefits of the pebble play.

Outdoor Gathering

Pebble play is ideally played outdoors. Feel free to allow your child to collect other items from the outdoors to compliment their pebble play. Sticks, leaves, and feathers can join the pebble world. Offer elastic bands or other means to bind different items with the pebbles.  When the child groups objects together ask why the items in question have been chosen.

Pebbles offer many opportunities for your child to experience the sensory, while developing motor skills through artistic discovery.