Paint and Hide Rocks With Grandchildren

  • 01 of 03

    Communities Get Into Rock Painting and Rock Hiding

    paint and hide rocks with grandchildren
    S. Adcox

    It's been a quiet movement, spread mostly by word of mouth -- or word of rocks. Hundreds of communities have groups committed to painting and hiding rocks, with no larger purpose than spreading a little joy. It's easy to get the grandchildren involved in one of these groups, and grandparents will find participating is oddly satisfying, as well. Here's how it works.

    Someone creates a group and a Facebook page for that group. Most groups' names are simply the name of the community,...MORE plus the word "rocks." The members paint rocks and place them around the community. Each painted rocks bears a message asking the person who finds it to post a picture to the Facebook page. The finder is free to keep or re-hide the rock. Finders are often motivated to join the group and start painting and hiding rocks. Many groups have seen interest skyrocket in just a matter of weeks.

    Find a Group

    If you're not sure whether you have a group in your area, search on Facebook or ask in an online community forum. You don't have to live in an area to join a group and post on the group's Facebook page, although it works better if you at least live nearby. If you don't see a group, it's easy to start one, although being administrator of a group will be a certain amount of work.

    One of the largest and most active groups is Whidbey Island Rocks, from the state of Washington. Take a look at the Whidbey Island Rocks Facebook page to get a better sense of how everything works. On this page under "Files" you will also find a downloadable document that contains a list of known groups in all the 50 states.

    Groups are most active in the Pacific Northwest, although Missouri is another hot spot. Here are a few more Facebook pages to look at:

    Most of these will have a post pinned to the top of the page or an "about" page that will give you insights about how to start and operate such a group.

    Best Practices for Group Pages

    Most groups will have a few simple rules on their Facebook pages. Mostly these rules are geared toward keeping the interaction civil. A good page requires administrators who are willing to watch for spam and for people trying to use the page to sell something. Those posts and comments should be deleted, as should any posts that are negative toward any group or individual.

    Since many of these pages are very active, so you may need to adjust your notifications so that they don't clog your news feed. In Facebook, click on "settings" and then on "notifications" and then on "group activity." The notifications for any group can be set to "all posts," "friends' posts," or "highlights." If you don't want to see any notifications from the group, set to "off." These settings can be changed at any time.

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  • 02 of 03

    How to Paint Rocks With Grandchldren

    grandchild painting rock
    Inti St Clair / Getty Images

    Painting rocks is a classic craft to do with grandchildren that has been given new life by the rock-hiding craze. It's an easy craft and enjoyable even for those who think they are not artistic.

    You'll need rocks, flat white spray paint, some acrylic paints, assorted brushes, a black fine-tipped Sharpie marker and a clear sealant spray. 

    Find Some Rocks

    Smooth rocks are best for most painting projects. If you live near a beach or river bed, you may be able to find your own rocks. If not,...MORE you should be able to buy them in a garden shop or craft store. All sizes of rocks can be painted, but the most popular sizes are from the size of an egg up to the size of a potato. Larger sizes are easier to paint but require more paint and more time and patience. Smaller sizes are a little trickier but can be done quickly. Large flat rocks that some people call "pancake rocks" are easy to paint, because they are more stable.

    Where to Find Ideas

    You can find lots of ideas for designs online, including some that quite easy to execute. Encourage the grandchildren to choose a simple design first, as they are likely to find the process more difficult than they expected. Creating designs with dots and stripes is usually easier than painting an actual picture.

    Some kids, of course, just like to come up with their own ideas, and that's okay, too. Younger children may just want to splash some paint on the rocks, and the results of that process can be amazingly artistic, too.

    Many rock painters enjoy creating seasonal motifs or putting inspirational words or sayings on their rocks.

    The Painting Process

    First, wash the rocks to remove loose dirt and dust. Then let them dry.

    Second, spray paint the rocks with a white, flat spray paint. This base coat will allow all color to show up. Some people like to work with the natural color of the rocks, but this is more challenging.

    Third, paint the rock. Some people like to use a pencil to plan their artwork. Some just like to free-hand. Use acrylic paints for big areas of color. Use the paint pens and Sharpie to add detail, or use a very small paintbrush.

    Fourth, after the paint has dried, use a clear sealant spray to protect your work. Sometimes the sealant spray will cause the Sharpie to smear. Be sure the ink is dry, and then spray sparingly and don't get the spray can too close to the rock.

    If you are going to hide your rocks, use a Sharpie or other fine instrument to write the appropriate message on the back. The usual message is something like, "Keep or re-hide. Post a pic to Facebook @ _____ Rocks."

    Branch out by trying new media for your artwork. Colored pencils give a cool effect, too. Some crafters like to add items such as yarn or googly eyes to their rocks, but many groups discourage such additions. If rocks are to be hidden outside, such items may not be weatherproof. In addition, such additions may come loose and become litter or even a hazard to wildlife.

    Painting Parties

    Some communities have painting parties, and it is also appropriate for any time that you have a grandchild or two over. Painting rocks can be a fun activity for a family birthday party, family reunion or other celebration. Rock painting is also an ideal activity for Grandma Camp.

    If you will be hosting younger grandchildren or a larger number of grandchildren, prepare ahead of time so that nothing will get ruined. Cover a table with a plastic tablecloth and put down newspaper on top of that. Show the grandchildren how to scoop out small dabs of paint onto a paper plate. That will avoid the problem of their sticking their brushes directly into the paint containers and mixing the colors together. Use sturdy mugs of water for rinsing paint brushes. Paper and plastic cups are too easy to knock over.

    Be sure the grandchildren remove any items of clothing of which they are particularly fond. Acrylic paint can be washed out when wet, but can be very hard to get out after it has dried. Old T-shirts are good for protecting the grandkids' clothes.

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  • 03 of 03

    Hiding and Finding Rocks

    hiding and finding painted rocks with grandchildren
    Tarik Lebbadi / EyeEm / Getty Images

    If you want to hide your rocks in the community, check the Facebook page for suggestions. You may be able to tell which are the "hot spots" for hiding and finding rocks. If you hide your rocks in these areas, your rocks will have a better chance of being found by someone who is familiar with the process. That increases the chance that your rocks will be posted on the group's Facebook page. Still, there's an excellent chance that your rocks will simply disappear. Warn the...MORE grandchildren that this may happen. It's best just to think about the joy that your rocks will bring to others. But keep checking your community pages just in case. It's a real thrill when your rocks do get found and posted.

    On some community pages, individuals post pictures of their rocks before they hide them, sometimes with hints about where they are going to be hidden. This practice increases the chances of the rocks being found and pictures posted, but some people prefer that their rocks be found by chance.

    Hiding Rocks Outdoors

    Parks and trails are natural places to hide rocks. It's best not to hide them where they will be a nuisance to maintenance workers. For example, if the area is regularly mowed, do not place rocks in the grass where they could be a hazard. In addition, do not place large rocks in trees or in other high spots where they could fall and injure someone.

    Some state and national parks are not receptive to rock-hiders. Ask before you hide.

    Hiding Rocks in Urban Locations

    Some people like to put their rocks where people who are doing ordinary errands will find them. They hide them near entrances of stores, restaurants and other places of business.

    Some businesses are receptive to rock-hiders, and some are not. Generally, it's not a good idea to hide rocks in stores that carry craft or novelty items, as a person picking up a rock may give the appearance of shoplifting.

    Finding Rocks

    It's also fun to take the grandchildren to a hot rock-hiding location to see if they can find any. If you do, remember that finders are allowed to either keep or re-hide the rocks. It is, however, frowned upon for any individual or group to come in and strip an area of rocks. Generally speaking, if you find more than one rock, you should re-hide the extras. Don't forget to take a picture of any rocks that you find so that you can post them on the designated group's page.

    Other Things to Do With Rocks

    If your grandchildren find that they just can't bear to let go of a rock, don't force them. They are fun to display around the house, too. Painted rocks can be displayed on a shelf, in a potted plant or in a flower bed. If you plan to put them in a pot plant or flower bed, it's wise to give them a couple of extra coats of sealer to protect them from water damage. 

    You can also create a pretty centerpiece by filling a glass cylinder with plain rocks and interspersing the painted rocks among them, placing the decorated ones on the sides of the cylinder so they can be easily viewed. 

    Want more hide-and-find fun? Try an indoor treasure hunt or an outdoor treasure hunt.