How to Make a Pet Rock a Fun Part of Your Family
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.
Why 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.
The original pet rock was conceived by advertising executive Gary Dahl in 1975.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
#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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 Debra Eckerling »