Rock balancing stone stacking art is where rocks are balanced one on top of the other in various positions to produce stone sculptures. Inviting children to balance and stack rocks of different shapes and sizes is an art, science and engineering focused STEAM activity for kids.
What is it called when you balance rocks or stack rocks on top of each other?
When rocks are balanced and stacked it is called rock balancing or stone stacking. Wikipedia describes a cairn as a “pile of stones, often in a conical form.” However, many people claim that these are not true stone cairns because most of them are not marking a landmark, trail, or memorial.
What is Rock Balancing or Stone Stacking?
Rock balancing is when stones are stacked one on top of the other to create stone sculptures or land art. The rocks are balanced without the use of wires, adhesives or other means of support to create sculptures. (source)
These rock or stone sculptures are sometimes used for meditation or marking trails and memorials. The practice of rock balancing is heavily discouraged in some areas.
Why is Rock Balancing or Stone Stacking Discouraged in Some Areas?
Rock balancing or stone stacking is not an activity that should be done in certain locations. It can disturb natural habitats and lead to the extinction of certain species.
On the island of Aruba, the art of balancing rocks and stacking stones is not advised and many are attempting to have the activity banned entirely. In the US, the national parks service forbids disrupting or moving any rocks or other natural structures within the parks.
Please be respectful of the environment and animal habitats when considering this activity. It is not natural to have an entire area full of rock piles and stone stacks everywhere.
Be aware, stack with care!
Rock Balancing Supplies
- River rocks or beach stones (Use a variety of shapes and sizes of rocks.)
- Space to create stone sculptures
You will need to go on a nature hunt for river rocks or beach stones or find a spot with lots of river or beach stones to do this STEAM activity. My family prefers to create rock art in the great outdoors, but home rock play can be just as much fun.
How to Balance Rocks and Stack Stones
First, show your kids how to balance rocks on top of the other to stack them into a human-made pile of stones balanced upon the earth.
Next, Invite children to stack stones of different shapes and sizes. Demonstrate how to balance and stack them one on top of the other, and then allow the kids to give it a go.
They will eventually learn through trial and error that they must begin with a strong foundation. They will also learn about gravity, and how to build through the natural trial and error of learning through play.
Shhh… don’t tell them. Just allow them to watch you and figure it out on their own. Feel free to throw out hints and guide as needed.
Tell your children to watch their toes if they choose to do this activity barefoot. Find out the 8 Reasons I Allow My Child to Go Barefoot.
It takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and balance skills to stack rocks higher and higher!
What Makes Rock Balancing a STEAM Activity?
STEAM activities are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities that include the arts. Adding art gives children the opportunity to use their imaginations and develop creativity.
Not all children love science and math, but art can bring them alive. This STEAM activity combines the science of gravity, basic engineering, and art to make learning more fun!
Ask the kids to count the number of stones they are able to stack. This adds math to this STEAM activity for kids. You can even ask the kids to average the number of rocks they are able to stack over time to add in more advanced math concepts.
The opportunities for learning are endless!
Related: Shadow Art Outdoor STEAM for Kids
Another fun way to stack rocks is to try to counterbalance the rocks and stones to create arches and other stone structures that defy gravity. Balancing rocks in this way creates a more advanced engineering challenge for both kids and adults.
My daughter and I were able to make a stone arch together… Not bad for our first attempt!
Invite children to balance and stack rocks of different sizes in various positions to produce stone sculptures for a fun STEAM challenge and activity for kids.
This post is a part of the 28 days of STEAM activities. Click on the link to see all of the fun hands-on learning activities for kids!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
If you liked Stone Stacking, You may also like:
- Shadow Art Outdoor STEAM for Kids
- Rainbow Rainy Day Art Kids STEAM
- Rainbow Science STEAM Activities for Kids
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