How to Make a Pet Rock a Fun Part of Your Family

Have your kids been begging for a pet?

Looking for a pet without the responsibility?

Try a pet rock. It’s a pet you find and make yourself that opens the door to lots of fun (and funny) adventures.

In this article I’ll show how you and your kids can create a pet rock and do fun activities to make it feel like it’s an actual pet.

Have your kids been begging for a pet? Try a pet rock. It’s a pet you find and make yourself that opens the door to lots of fun (and funny) adventures.

Why a Pet Rock?

There are lots of fun things you can do with found rocks. Conduct experiments, make rock art, play rock bingo or make a pet rock.

If your kids want a pet, you can’t get an easier one than a pet rock! It will inspire creativity and teach responsibility. And it’s a great alternative for families with allergies. Think of a pet rock as a starter pet. When the kids master the pet rock, it may be time to trade up to Rover the dog or Kitty the cat.

Find the rock in your backyard, on a nature hike or during a walk around your neighborhood. Then bring it into your home and make it a part of your family.

The original pet rock was conceived by advertising executive Gary Dahl in 1975.

original pet rock

This is the original pet rock.

The fad, where people purchased an authentic pet rock and cared for it as they would a live pet, lasted about 6 months. Read more about the pet rock craze on the BeInkandescent blog.


Here’s a peek into the training and care of the original pet rock. Yours will be decorated.

Though you can once again purchase an authentic pet rock, your family will have a lot more fun and use their creativity and imagination if you find and craft your own pet rock.

It’s practically free. The only shipping and handling charge is time spent together on a walk, looking for the perfect rock.

So let’s get started!

You Will Need

  • Rock
  • Paints and other craft materials
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • And more, depending on the size and scope of your projects

Preparation Time

As long as it takes to find the perfect rock

Activity Time

Multiple activities, 10+ minutes each

Location

  • Find the rock in your backyard or on a nature hike or walk
  • Do activities with it at home or out

I’ll show you how to find and create your pet rock, then share activities to make your new pet a part of your family.

#1: Find Your Rock

First things first—find a rock to turn into your pet. This is the initial, and in many ways most important, part of this adventure.

A rock-hunt is an excellent reason to get your kids to take a walk or go on a hike. It’s also a great camping activity. There’s a lot to explore in the great outdoors. And a simple way to get your kids excited about going out in nature is the important task of finding a rock to become your pet.

Plan a hike, either around the neighborhood or a nearby park or nature setting. Explain that you are going to find a pet: a pet rock.

family hike

Searching for a pet rock is a great way to get your kids excited about going on a hike. Image source: Shelley Miller

Looking for a pet rock is a very personal experience. You must find one that looks interesting and that also speaks to you. Okay, maybe it doesn’t speak to you out loud. That’s what imagination is for.

After your kids gather a few rocks, sit down and talk about them. Ask questions like, “Why did you choose each rock?” “What is it you like about it?” “Can you see a face?” Take turns discussing the rocks.

Remember to take a “before” photo of the pre-decorated rocks. That way you’ll have before and after pics of your pet rocks!

taking a picture

Take some pictures of your rocks before they’re transformed into pets.

Choose one or several rocks to decorate. You may want to start with one and then add to the family.

Thoroughly clean your rock and let it dry before you paint it.

#2: Decorate Your Rock

You can leave your rock bare, like the commercial pet rocks, but it’s a lot more fun to get creative and decorate it.

The sky’s the limit when you decorate a pet rock. Grab the paints, googly eyes and other craft supplies and give your rock some personality.

Encourage kids to use their imaginations. A pet rock can be anything you want it to be, from a funny creature to a specific animal. To get your creativity rolling, check out these DIY Pet Rock ideas from Jenni at Paging Fun Mums.

Paint the rock base or just paint on a smile. Glue on one or two eyes. Add accessories like pipe cleaners, feathers or doll hair. Or no hair.

Remember, if you use paint, you’ll want to wait for it to dry between layers.

decorated pet rocks

Use paint, googly eyes, feathers, pom poms, pipe cleaners, anything you have in your craft cabinet to decorate your pet rock.

If you’re interested in an animal-themed rock, make a pet bee like this one from Amanda Formaro at Crafts by Amanda.

rock bees

These rock bees are easy to make and don’t sting!

Use one rock or combine several rocks to make your pet rock, as Angie and Kristin of Blonde Designs shared on the Skip to My Lou blog.

Once you’ve completed this step, take an “after” photo of your pet rock.

#3: Personalize Your Rock

Name your pet rock. If a name doesn’t immediately come to you or you need inspiration, Adopt a Pet has a list of 250 fun pet names.

Also, check out the pet name generator from Bow Wow Meow. You can search by type of name, letter or appearance. They share pet naming tips and list name meanings too! Granted, it’s designed for dog and cat name searches, but you can still use it to help name your pet rock.

Once your pet has a name, create a birth certificate for it.

Pet Rock Birth Certificate

Here are some items to include in your pet rock’s birth certificate.

  • Name:
  • Date of Birth:
  • Birth Location:
  • Current Location:
  • Adoptive Parent:

Write or print it out on special paper, frame it and put it in a special place for safekeeping.

Bonus Project: Take a photo and create a birth announcement to email or mail to friends and family. Be sure to post your birth announcement on Facebook to let all of your friends know about your new pet.

Sharon Hester at Teaching Tiny Tots suggests you do a pet rock interview so you can get to know your pet better. This is something you can also include in your birth announcement if you’d like.

#4: Make Your Rock a Home

Make a house, furniture and other accessories for your pet rock so it feels right at home.

This is another great family construction project, especially if you have a family of rocks. Think of a pet-rock house as a dollhouse for rocks. You can also adapt a birdhouse design to make it a little larger.

dollhouse

If you’re really ambitious and your family likes construction projects, build a dollhouse for your pet rocks, like this one from Sherry and John at Young House Love.

If you don’t want to “build,” a house use a shoebox, plastic container or jar as your home base. Or repurpose a dollhouse as a comfortable abode for your pet rock. Here’s a nice blueprint for a pet-rock house from Andrea Lott at eHow.

Check out Wikihow for how to construct furniture for your pet rock. They have a whole section on the care of your pet rock, including pet rock accessories, which is also worth a look.

Though not usually created with this intention, a Zen garden, like this one from the Free People blog, makes a nice spa for your pet rock. This one uses glass, so find a shallow plastic dish to use instead. The Zen garden is a great place to send your rock for a little quiet time whenever it’s acting up.

zen garden

Make a Zen garden playground for your pet rock. This is great for kids of all ages, as well as parents.

When making any kind of house or accessories for your pet rock, the most important tool is your imagination.

Discuss what items you want to create. Have each family member draw a design. Take out your craft items, including construction paper, cardboard and toilet paper tubes. Then, work together and see what you can construct. Then decorate with paint, markers, buttons, you name it.

#5: Travel With Your Rock

Since your pet rock carries no travel restrictions (except maybe the weight your pocket can hold), you can take it with you anywhere: to the store, to the library or on vacation. There are no extra hotel fees for traveling with this breed of pet. Just keep an eye on your pet rock, so it doesn’t wander off. And be sure to include your pet in the family photos.

Make a pet rock–carrying pouch, so your pet stays safe from the elements.

This no-sew sunglass case from Stephanie at Henry Happened can be used as a pet rock travel bag.

carrying case

Make a case for your pet rock for when you want to take it on an adventure.

All you need for this easy-to-make case is a bandana or other fabric, string, scissors and craft tape. Add cotton balls or gift-basket fill to the bottom for a more comfortable journey.

#6: Have a Rock Adoption Party

The great thing about a pet rock is that you can continue to add to the brood without any additional care and feeding costs.

Make this an ongoing family adventure. Each time you go on a hike, find another pet rock. Or collect a new rock each time you take a vacation. It may open some interesting conversations with your kids about multiculturalism.

group of decorated pet rocks

Add to your pet rock family every time you go on a walk or hike.

Be sure to have an adoption party each time you add a new member to your rock family.

Enjoy snacks, listen to rock music and play games. Mary Catherine at Fun-A-Day has pet rock activity suggestions, such as games like pet rock hide-and-seek. There are some decorating suggestions on her blog too!

Have younger kids draw pictures, while older ones write a story about how your pet rock came into the family. Take lots of pictures.

Compile all of your pet rock adventures into a family memory book.

kids drawing

Draw pictures and write up your pet rock adventures, separately or as a family, and put them in a book. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Anytime your kids feel creative, make up new rock adventures through creative play and storytelling.

#7: Other Uses for Pet Rocks

Besides being an awesome companion, pet rocks have other uses.

Rock Crafts: There’s more than one way to decorate a rock. Here are three great ideas from Amy Vowles at She Knows. Use rocks to tell stories, as paperweights or décor for the garden.

storytelling rocks

Storytelling rocks are great creative inspiration. Plus they make a great decoration.

Love Rocks: Draw inspiring and loving messages on rocks. Jen on Plain Vanilla Mom made Love Rocks for her husband for Valentine’s Day, but they can be adapted for anyone. Give these when someone needs a special pick-me-up or as part of a birthday or holiday gift.

love rocks

Create messages of love and support with markers and some nice rocks.

A Rock Alphabet: Make a rock alphabet, like this one from Melissa Blough on Education.com. Go on a rock hunt, and then paint 26 rocks. Use these to send messages, label items in your home or for spelling and reading practice!

rock alphabet

Create a rock alphabet, then use the letters for endless fun activities.

Or hide them again outside and go on a rock scavenger hunt. Have the kids search for the whole alphabet, their names or certain words.

A pet rock is more than just a rock. It may not be very cuddly, but it has numerous uses and benefits. This is just the beginning of the things your family can make and do with rocks.

Some Final Thoughts

Whether you use the pet rock as a starter pet or your kids’ only pet, they are a great way to teach responsibility while encouraging imagination and creativity. And the adventure walks you take to find the rocks are a bonus, as well as a benefit.

The way you use or bond with your pet rock will change as your kids get older. Crafts will become more intricate, stories more detailed. The important part is to use your pet rock to inspire creativity and fun, and to make memories as a family.

What do you think? Do you have a pet rock? What’s your pet rock’s name? What are some of the activities you do with your pet rock?

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Debra Eckerling

Debra Eckerling is an editor at My Kids Adventures. The creator of Write On Online, a website and community for writers, Debra helps individuals define, plan and achieve their goals. Other posts by »


  • Irene O’Leary

    Hi Deb, I think this will be a fun project to do with our grandkids–I think the adventure will be in finding the perfect one!

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Absolutely, Irene. The quest to find the perfect rock is an excellent way/reason/excuse to get kids outside, enjoying nature!

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Deb! This looks like so much fun! My son has been begging for a pet. This may be a good starter-critter for him.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Easiest pet ever! :) And he can have as many as he wants, right?

  • http://www.heartspoken.com/ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

    This makes me want to be a kid again! I was trying not to put pressure on my kids to give me grandchildren, but this website is getting me excited about all the possibilities. Wonderful!

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! So happy you like the site. You know, you can make a pet rock at any age. :)

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    So cute! I LOVE the bees!!

  • http://craftsbyamanda.com/ Amanda Formaro

    Thank you so much for sharing my bees! :) :)

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks, Crystal! Would love to see pics of your pet rocks!

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    You are welcome, Amanda. They are adorable. Happy to include.

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