My love affair with painted pebbles began when we spent an afternoon at East Riddlesden Hall, a National Trust property. There, in the outdoor discovery garden, was this outdoor game of tic-tac-toe using painted pebbles as counters and a tree stump for the board. My husband and son spent ages playing games with my son slowly developing his strategies to try and win.
I knew I had to copy the idea so one day whilst out walking I collected a handful of pebbles and gave it a go. If you look on Pinterest there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of lovely designs to paint on stones but what I was really interested in was the ones that you could turn into games for the children.
Here are my Five Favourite Painted Pebble Activites for Kids that I have recreated at home. These activities encourage children to think, solve problems and be creative which are all excellent learning skills that they can transfer in to other areas of life.
All you need are:
Pebbles (round, flat pebbles are the easiest to paint on)
Mod Podge, a water based sealer, glue and finish (I found this in Hobbycraft)
I couldn’t start a round up without mentioning this game, after all it was my inspiration! I have seen counters made with traditional noughts and crosses on them, purple and blue monsters, pink with spots and green with stripes. The list is endless. To create a board you could use a slice of tree stump or draw a grid on a piece of paper. If you enjoy sewing, you could make a little cotton game bag with felt grid lines and a press stud or zip on it so the counters can be safely stored inside when not in use.
You need 28 pebbles for a full set of dominoes from double zero to double six. You could paint your pebbles to look like traditional dominoes with a black background and white dots, or you can brighten them up by picking other colours for the background and dots. I saw a fabulous set of ladybird dominoes somewhere on Pinterest, how clever!
3. Matching pairs
This is traditionally a card game where you turn over cards two at a time and try to find matching pairs. This can easily be replicated with flat pebbles, all you need to do is come up with a number of designs and paint two pebbles with each picture.
I love these ones I’ve created on a space theme which can also be used to do a little learning activity with your child on ordering the planets.
4. Story stones
This is a good game for in the car. Make a number of pebbles with random pictures on them e.g. a unicorn, house, person, rainbow, wishing well, aeroplane, tree, kite etc. Put the pebbles into a little bag and Player One dips their hand in and takes a stone. They must start a story based on the picture on the pebble they have chosen. Each person takes a turn and continues the story ensuring that they include the picture on their selected stone. You can go round the group as many times as you like, and you don’t necessarily have to include all the stones each time in the bag.
5. Tower of Hanoi
The Tower of Hanoi is a traditional problem solving game that is used a lot in schools as a Maths challenge. You will need 7 flat, round pebbles that you can stack from largest to smallest. The aim of the Tower of Hanoi is to move the discs (pebbles) from the first position to the third position by moving one pebble at a time and never stacking a bigger stone on top of a smaller stone.
It looks fab if you paint the 7 pebbles each a different colour of the rainbow starting with the biggest stone being red and ending with the smallest stone being violet. However, 7 pebbles for a game is difficult for a beginner, it is best to start with 3 pebbles and work your way up!
Check out our Pinterest board for more ideas!
Why not PIN Five Favourite Painted Pebble Activities for Kids while you’re at it?