Learn how to paint rocks and explore the best rock painting ideas for kids with any of the awesome ideas and rock painting tips for children below.
My daughter and I LOVE painting rocks together. Rock painting is a great way to spend time with the kids getting creative. Painting rocks is also an easy activity most children can do on their own. Learn all of our rock painting ideas and tips below!
Related: Real Flower Nature Crafts
Rock Painting with Kids
Get outside with the kids to collect rocks and then paint them. If you don’t have any areas that you can go to collect rocks, you may have to go collect your rocks a home improvement or a landscaping store that carries smooth round unfinished river stones in bulk.
The photos above were taken the first time my daughter and I painted rocks together when she was 2 1/2 years old.
It was her first time painting rocks, and my first time in years. I had not painted rocks since I was a kid. It was so much fun I wondered why I hadn’t done it in so long!
We collected and painted our rocks over several days. We found rocks on our daily walks and would come home to paint them. It was wonderful to bond with my daughter painting rocks on her DIY art table outside in the warm sunshine.
Since that time we have painted lots and lots of rocks using the fun rock painting ideas below!
Rock Painting Supplies
- Rocks [Flat smooth rocks work best]
- Rock paint (see options below)
- Water-based glue sealer with a foam brush or acrylic varnish (optional)
Our Favorite Rock paint options
- Patio Paint or acrylic paint & paintbrushes
- Extra fine tip paint pen multipack
- Extra fine tip pastel paint pens
- Black outline pen
- Mixed white tips marker pack
- Black and white fine to medium set
- Metalic brush paint pens
Have a look at our favorite rock painting supplies in our Amazon Store for even more ideas!
How to Paint Rocks
- Collect rocks to paint.
- Wash rocks and allow them to dry in the sun.
- Set up an area to paint. Put down newspaper to protect the surface that you will be working on.
- Optional–Paint a single color acrylic base layer on each rock you will be painting and allow to dry. Recommended for some rock painting designs.
- Paint rocks in any way you like or use the ideas found in “Rock Painting Tips” and “Rock Painting Ideas” below.
- Allow rock paint to dry overnight.
- Use a foam brush to paint a layer of acrylic sealant or use a varnish to help protect the paint. (optional)
Once finished they can be displayed on your nature table, in flower beds, in the garden, or wherever else suits your fancy. If you place them outside they will weather in the sun and may get damaged even with a sealant or varnish applied.
Rock Painting with Kids
You can see the difference between rocks with sealer and rocks without sealer above. The rocks on the top left have no sealer, while the rocks both below and to the right have had a top coat sealer applied.
Related: Sorting and Classifying Rocks
Rock Painting Tips
- A fun way to paint rocks is to think of them like clouds in the sky. What do you see? Paint the rock to match.
- Two color patterns using a complementary or contrasting color always look nice.
- Hearts, rainbows, mandalas, and words of inspiration are always fun to paint on rocks.
- If you place your painted rocks outside they will weather in the sun and may still get damaged even when you apply a sealer or varnish. If you want to keep it nice, keep it inside.
For further inspiration, we have added a few links to some beautiful, creative, and fun ways to paint rocks that we have discovered and tried since the first time my daughter and I painted rocks together.
The Best Rock Painting Ideas for Kids
- Paint one rock with each letter of the alphabet. Learn more about this rock painting idea over on Teach Beside Me.
- Make some food for your mud kitchen with this super fun idea from Munchkins and Moms.
- I love these colorfully painted rocks by Bellisimakids and the gorgeous technique they use to paint rocks.
- Paint rocks to look like ladybugs in a rainbow of colors. Pop over to Crafts by Amanda for the directions.
- Paint river rock garden markers like the beautiful collection found over on West Valley Moms Blog.
- Paint dots on rocks to simple designs and pictures and even more elaborate designs. Learn how over on Twitchetts.
- Try painting Kandinsky inspired rock art like the fun collection of rock art over on Arty Crafty Kids.
- Paint garden rocks and make a little drawstring bag for them like the beautiful ones Kate made over on The Craft Train.
- Try rock painting using puffy paint like Sam over at Color Made Happy.
- These painted jack-o-lantern pumpkin rocks by Adventure in a box are a perfect rock painting project for the fall.
The Best Painted Rock Crafts for Kids
- Make a rock snake like the one made by Rachel over on I Heart Crafty Things. A rock snake is a fun rock painting idea and a fun homemade toy for the kids to play with.
- When I saw this rock garden caterpiller over on Nellie Bellie (one of my nicknames too!) I wanted to put our funny little yellow slug alongside it. So cute!
- If you have ever made a pet rock you will love these pet cactus painted rocks over on The Best Ideas for Kids. Find the directions for this super cute rock craft here.
- Make a rock fish pond like this painted rock craft by Make it Your Own. Or try this cute pebble rock fish craft by Hello, Wonderful.
- Paint rocks to create mix and match flowers like this cute idea from Typically Simple.
- Turn any garden or unused yard space into a fairy garden with the super cute painted rock fairy houses pictured below!
Finding this mermaid painted rock made my daughter so happy. Thank you, Chico Rocks!
Related: Fingerprint Art Magnets
Leaving and Finding Painted Rocks In Nature
There are many people that collect and paint rocks and then leave them somewhere for others to find. Others frown on this practice, believing that nature should remain as undisturbed as possible.
While I understand and agree with the “take only pictures and leave only footprints” ideal, we just can’t help ourselves!
My daughter and I have come to enjoy putting out a few rocks we paint every now and again. It all started the first day we actually found one.
Finding a hidden rock is a delight not to be missed. It filled my heart and made me want to run home and paint rocks to hide for others to find.
We have found several more since that first painted rock, and they have all been found in different locations sometimes hundreds of miles away! A few of our favorites are pictured below.
We think moderation is key. Don’t take all the rocks and stones you find, and don’t leave a mess of painted rocks everywhere–sound good?
Related: Get Outside and Connect
Rocks that my daughter, dog, and I have found.
Rock Painting for Kids
Get outside with the kids to collect and paint rocks. Don’t forget to look for hidden painted rocks while you are at it. They are out there hiding waiting for you to find them!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE.
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A poop emoji rock that our dog found–lol!
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