How to Make a Rock Garden With Your Kids
Want a cool outdoor project that helps your kids express their creativity?
Create a rock and mineral garden to draw out the inner rockhounds in your family.
In this article I’ll show you how to collect rocks and minerals with your kids and create a beautiful rock garden together.
Why Build a Rock and Mineral Garden?
A rock garden is essentially a pile of rocks and minerals that you arrange in a beautiful or interesting manner.
When you build a rock and mineral garden with your kids, you’ll enjoy the thrill of the hunt; spend some fun time outdoors together; learn about geology, biology and relationships between rocks and minerals; and create something beautiful that comes from nature. There’s something for everyone.
There will be opportunities to throw rocks around too. Just be careful where you toss them!
This garden is multi-purpose. It can complement your flower or vegetable garden, become a work of art, act as a table centerpiece, hold rock memorabilia collected from other family adventures or all of the above.
Note: You can also plan a visit to a rock and mineral shop or even a craft store. Many local tourist shops allow you to buy a bag for $2.00 to $5.00 and stuff it with as many tumbled stone “treasures” as you can squeeze in.
Once you find the rocks, let out your inner artists as you create an aesthetically pleasing rock garden that you can display proudly.
All good adventures start with a conversation about what you are about to see and do!
Gather the troops—your fellow rockhounds—and ask how they feel about rocks. What kind (color, size) rocks do you hope to find? What’s the best place to find them? What’s the best thing to do with them? Note: you can also ask these questions after the adventure as a way to extend the experience.
You can even play a game of rock, paper, scissors to get ready.
#1: Seek Stony Places
As previously mentioned, there are plenty of places to find rocks and minerals.
Make it an ongoing project, where you collect rocks whenever you are out on a family adventure or plan an outing specifically for seeking rocks. Head for the hills, the beach, the park, a nature hike or anywhere that rocks abound. (You can even purchase rocks from a rock and gem store if you can’t find them locally and/or want to enhance your garden with shiny rocks.)
While you may want or need to go on a trek in search of rocks, you can also keep it simple. Step outside for a walk in your neighborhood and see what rocks you can find.
Ready? Grab your rockhounds and head out!
Don’t forget your gear: Take a rock-collecting bag (you can share a bag or give one to each family member) and a field guide (if you’re dedicated to unplugging) or smartphone with downloaded app (if you want to stay wired).
#2: Locate and Identify Rocks
Once on the rock hunt, keep your eyes open for interesting rocks.
Depending on where you live, you’ll come across one of three kinds of rocks.
Igneous Rocks: Once liquid rock, called magma when it’s inside of the earth, igneous rocks have since cooled into stone. An example of an igneous rock is granite, which is popular in urban rock gardens.
Some sedimentary rock, like limestone, may even have fossils inside. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even discover the next species of dinosaur!
Once you’ve found some interesting rocks and/or minerals, identify them with your field guide or app.
Once you find a rock that you just have to take home, put it in your bag. Find rocks of different shapes and sizes, rocks that look unique or have meaning.
#3: Enhance Your Collection With Local Rocks
The rocks in your neighborhood can sometimes tell a story about what other people, animals and the elements have been doing.
Include at least a few local rocks in your collection to make your rock garden more interesting. It’ll also link your project to your community and offer additional personal value.
Some rocks have such a large story around them that entire towns are named after them. We learned about the First Nations legend behind the white rock in our town.
While you can’t take every rock home, you can learn a lot about your local history. Investigate the rocks in your area—you never know what you’ll learn.
No story? No problem. “Discover” a rock in your town and as a family make up a story about it.
#4: Assemble Your Rock Garden
Once you’ve collected a nice assortment of rocks, it’s time to create your rock garden.
Take a small tray or planter and start arranging.
You can make a family rock garden and have everyone work together on the design. Or have each member—including you—create his or her own garden.
Want to add instant glam to your rock garden? Include some tumbled stones, which you can find at a rock and gem shop.
To make your rock garden shinier, add in old necklaces, colored sand or shiny pieces of metal or even a rock guardian.
You can use a stone sculpture or trinket from a past trip, like old Horus here, who came home with us from a trip to Egypt.
Using a souvenir is a great way to remember past family trips and adventures.
However you arrange your rock garden, it will have your style, along with your memories.
#5: Display Your Rock Garden
Now that you have a beautiful rock garden, display it in your home, deck or backyard.
One of the best things about a rock garden is that it’s never finished! You can rearrange it whenever you want.
Add to your rock garden whenever you come across a really great rock that you just have to take home. Or start a new garden entirely.
You may end up with a garden full of rock gardens.
Some Final Thoughts…
A rock and mineral garden has so many fun and exciting elements for your kids. The nature walk you take to find your rocks will promote outdoor activity and exploration. Plus, there’s a lot to learn when you identify different rocks and minerals and research how they came to be. And there’s the artistic element when you create the actual rock garden.
You may even discover something new about your home and how rocks form the foundation of your community.
However you collect and compile, one thing’s for sure. You’ll have a rock-solid bonding experience with your family.
What do you think? Have you ever collected rocks with your kids or created a rock garden? Are you planning to? What kinds of rocks abound in your area? Where will you explore? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. We’d love to see a pic of your rock garden, too!