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Playing With Rocks
Suitable for: Kids from 3 to 8
Takes place: At Home
Keywords: crafts, rock, painting, imagination, animals, zoo
The best thing about painting rocks may be that there's nothing to it. All you need is a pocketful of stones, some paint, and a little imagination, and in no time you will have a stone family and an entourage of stony-faced creatures.

First, send your kids out to gather an assortment of stones. They can study each one, much as a sculptor of marble or rock does, to see what the shape or composition of each suggests. A rough, chunky rock may resemble a crouching cat, a toad, or an owl. Tiny, smooth pebbles can make great ladybugs or bumblebees. A flat, round stone can be used for a snail shell or a face; long, thin ones make natural arms, legs, and tails.

To make an animal, start with a larger stone as a base for the body. Then use glue to attach smaller stones for eyes, ears, wings, antennae, and feet. For stone people, glue arms, legs, and heads to rock bodies or leave the limbs unattached for future mixing and matching.

Keep the painting process tidy by working outside on newspaper. Wipe off any sand or dirt, then use acrylics to highlight features like eyes, noses, and hair. Dress the figures any way you want--in stripes or checks, ties or dresses, tutus or Stetsons.

What to do with these made-to-last critters? Set up a rock petting zoo in a box or populate a terrarium with them. Your kids might also want to glue their sculptures onto a paper plate and create a scene from a concert featuring all their favorite rock stars.

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