Homemade Story Stones

Homemade story stones are a great addition to any playroom or classroom. They’re so fun and easy to make, and your kids will get years of enjoyment out of them.

When I first learned about story stones, I knew right away that I needed to make some because A) the crafter in me loves  making homemade toys, and B) the hooligans LOVE playing with stones – we have quite a large collection of stones and rocks of all sizes here at my home daycare.  You can see how we play with our some of our stones here.

Recently, I made a large set of story stones for our playroom.  I had such a fun time making them, and the hooligans are enjoying them in all kinds of ways.

homemade story stones

So, what ARE story stones exactly?

Story stones are simply smooth, flat stones that you can find at the beach or even at a craft store.  Each stone has a picture of a character or animal or object on it.  You can make a story stone by painting a picture on it, you can use stickers, you can draw on your stone with a permanent marker, or like us, you can use magazine cutouts or fabric scraps to make your story stones.  **More about how I made ours in a bit.

How do you USE story stones for play?

Story stones can be used in many ways:

You can use them as story tell aides: the children choose a stone from the basket, and start a story based on the picture on the stone that they’ve chosen.  Another stone is drawn from the basket, and the story continues, incorporating this next picture into it.  One child can be telling this story, or you can pass the basket around at circle time, so that each child draws a stone, and adds another sentence to the story.

The stones can also be used for creative play:  The hooligans often use the story stones at whatever centre they’re playing at. Ours are often used as:

  • characters in the dollhouse
  • animals at our farm cemter
  • in conjunction with our building blocks
  • as food in the play kitchen

Sorting and grouping activities:  The hooligans love to sort our story stones.   The kids will pile up all of the people stones, and then they’ll find the animals, and the food stones.  The holiday stones go into another pile, and so on.  These sorting and organizing activities help with early math skills.

The kids will also line the stones up in a long row. They can be used to make a large circle or square on the floor.

There’s no right or wrong way to play with the stones.  They’re open-ended, and they foster creative and critical thinking.  We LOVE them.

Now that you now WHAT story stones are, and how to play with them, let’s move on to making them!

As I said earlier, there are a number of ways to make story stones, but this is how I made ours.

How I made our story stones:

First I raided my fabric stash for cottons and flannels that had animal prints on them.  I cut out a few animal shapes, and then i moved on to a stack of magazines and old craft books that I’d picked up at a second hand shop a few years back.  The craft books were fabulous.

 

The books were intended for a stained glass-painting type of craft.  Of course, being in a second hand shop, the paints didn’t come with them.  I just thought the pictures might come in handy one day, so I bought them, and tucked them away for a rainy day.  The pages were heavier in weight than a regular magazine, and the colours were vibrant.  The pictures in the book were just perfect for my project.  Hello, rainy day!

easy homemade story stones by happy hooligans

To make your story stones,  put a puddle of mod podge on a stone, and then place the cut-out in the puddle, and use your fingers to smooth out any air bubbles.  With a sponge brush, smooth and dab a little modge-podge over the cut-out, pressing around the edges with your fingers, to get a good seal between the paper and the stone.

The quilt fabric was the easiest to work with because the material was thin and flimsy, and molded to the rock easily.  The magazine pictures worked well too, because of their thinness.  The craft book cut-outs were quite a bit thicker (similar to glossy card-stock), and required more pressing and smoothing, but they turned out great!

holiday story stones

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of using mod lodge to make your story stones, you could simply apply assorted stickers to your stones, and then give them a coat of varnish for protection.

Whether you’re using mod podge or craft varnish, be sure to let your stones dry thoroughly before tossing them all into a basket for storing.  If they’re not completely dry, they could stick together.  I let mine dry for a couple of days until they no longer felt tacky.

Story stones provide a super opportunity for imaginative play, and there’s some great sensory stuff going on too: the colours are vibrant, they’re cool to the touch, and for me there’s something soothing about the sound of stones clacking together as you play with them.

Aren’t they cute?  I’m so pleased with the way they turned out.

story stones - happy hooligans

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow yours look fantastic – I wonder which ones will be the hooligan’s favourites! Ahhh you made balls, I realised the other day I have a little one that is totally obsessed with balls and I forgot to do a ball!!

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks Cathy! I think yours are fantastic! Once the Hooligans are back, I plan to do some photo ones like you did. Love the idea of making them personalized stones!

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Jenn!! Thanks! You’re going to love making them as much as your kids like playing with them! Good to see you here! :)

  2. says

    I HEART this idea! My kids aren’t so little anymore…but I’m going to tweak this for another purpose. When I get a moment to do it, I’ll be sure to link back to you if I blog about it…

    Wendy @Kidlutions

    • happyhooligans says

      Thank you so much! That’s a huge compliment considering I’ve been absolutely drooling over everyone else’s! :)

    • happyhooligans says

      I have felt the same way before, Laura. It’s so nice to have these blogs and facebook pages to visit for inspiration, and refreshing ideas, Thanks for popping in. :)

  3. Jacki says

    Help! I made some of these the other day. After they dried over night I stored them in a little bag, but when the kids took them out the ones that had faced each other stuck together and when they pulled them apart the pictures came off! They were completely dry and not tacky at all when I put them in the bag. How do you store yours? Not sure what to do about it!!

    • happyhooligans says

      Uh-oh! I store mine in a sturdy wooden basket. They’re always exposed to air, so I’ve never had any sticking problems. Can you modpodge new pictures over top of the ones that were ruined? I don’t have a lot of experience with Modpodge, but it sounds like more than 24 hours is necessary to truly dry the stones, and you’re probably best to store them in a container that will allow air to circulate over and around the stones. Even in that kind of container (a box, a bowl or a basket), I wouldn’t stack the stones on top of each other until they’re well and truly dry. I’d probably wait several days. I’d be worried if I did any sooner, (esp. in warm, humid, summery weather) that it could happen again.

      Hope you get it straightened out, Jacki and that you have fun with them. j.

  4. says

    Loving the idea! I pinned this ages ago but was looking for an easier alternative that my daughter now 2 and half could do with me. Did not think of using stickers! what a great suggestion! she can use them then I can do the gloss bit. Any ideas on a suitable gloss ?

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi, Amy,

      You can use the clear acrylic craft sealer, or mod-podge or even a spray varnish. I would let them dry for at least 24 hours before stacking them on top of each other for storing. I had one mom say she placed them in a plastic bag, and they all stuck together, even though they didn’t appear to be tacky any more. I seem to recall mine were tacky for a day or two, and I’ve only ever stored mine in a wicker basket so in the early days, the air was able to circulate around them.

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks so much for the mention, Rashmie. It looks like the girls had fun with them! They’re at a great age to participate in making them, and really using their imagination while using them! Love the idea of experimenting with other materials! Happy Belated Birthday to Pari!

  5. says

    I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your Story Stone project! You can see it here:

    http://funfamilycrafts.com/story-stones-2/

    If you have other kid friendly crafts, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!

  6. Monica Cantu says

    Absolutely LOVE the idea! I’ll tweak it a bit, and use plastic bottle caps instead of stones, so that they are easier to carry around. I’m an ESL teacher, and these could be a perfect writing prompt for my students! Thank you for a great project!

  7. Karen Lowrie says

    Have made these and they are so versatile, big stones with dinosaurs on, some with shapes on in the Maths area, a really lovely idea, and free too!

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m not sure, Martine. I have a beach full of them about 5 minutes from home, so I’ve never had to look for them in stores. A craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby perhaps?

  8. Kay says

    Just found these in your site. I looked st them thinking you were such a good painter!! I’m half I clicked to read more-only to find I can use magazine pictures!!!! I’m excited I can go this!!!! I certainly can’t paint that good. Brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing. Kay

  9. says

    These are so lovely. Great idea using craft/activities books like that! I still have to make my own. Just letting you know that I’ve featured this idea on this week’s Tuesday Tots in a post full of rock’n great ideas. ;)

Trackbacks

  1. […] Story Stones:  Story stones are lots of fun!  I had a blast making them, and the hooligans love playing with them.  They are wonderful story-telling prompts.  A child reaches into the basket, draws out a stone, and must use whatever is on the stone in a sentence i.e. “I was riding a blue elephant“, and either they or another child draws another stone and continues, “when I saw a dog playing with a red ball“.  We have a collection of about 50-60 story stones, so it’s a new game every time we play.  You can see how I made our story stones here. […]

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