Simple As That: Cherishing the Pet Rock

From the moment I saw the story telling stones created by Emily at red bird crafts, I’ve been wanting to gather up some of the many rocks in the abandoned rock garden next to our front porch to start our own collection.

One morning I started picking up rocks with this in mind, but before we even had a chance to start this project, our four year old offered me another opportunity to let go and go with it.  She was immediately captivated by a small chunk of concrete which she declared was her new pet, “Shelly.”  As it turns out, Shelly comes with a story of his own – he is bigger than the other rocks and none of the other rocks wanted to play with him, perhaps because he was so big and plain?  It was quickly decided that he was in dire need of a rainbow makeover.

Dacey selected on our new collection of sparkle paints for Shelly:





Eventually we had to call in some chocolate cookies to keep the creativity nourished:


Here is stage one of Shelly the Pet Rock’s makeover:


He has since had some polka dots added, and I hear a pair of googly eyes along with some pom pom accents are in the works.

Remember when I told you how hard it is for me to purge out items from our extensive toy collection?  Shelly has reminded me that children really do delight in the simplest objects.  He has become a fixture at our table, joining in dinnertime discussions and overseeing other art projects.  In the past week, she has played with him far more than any of the other toys taking up space in the playroom.

Shelly has been a (forgive me) concrete reminder to me that when it comes to inspiring imaginative play, simplicity wins every time.

(By the way, how are you doing with naming nature for our first Connecting with Nature challenge?  Don’t forget we’ll gather on Saturday to discuss.  And remember that discussion on Last Child in the Woods for the Simple Mom Sound Mind, Sound Mom book club starts today!)

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  1. Ooohh..what a beautiful site! Thanks for sharing. I have an alternate identity called “that red bird” that I’m saving for future projects because my dad once stood at my kitchen door and yelled “Look at that red bird!” My husband and I loved that. Such enthusiasm and appreciation-there’s just something about red birds.
    I’m adding this link to my blog under Creative Mamas we love.

    Kelly Feinberg’s last blog post..Craft Hope Doll Project

  2. Once when I was a little girl visitng my grandparents, I found a piece of concrete that I thought looked like the perfect gun for my Wild West Show I was rehearsing (my grandparents had horses so I oftne pretended I was a cowgirl galloping around on a stick).

    I will never, never forget the seriousness with which my Grandpa honored my imagination by taking that concrete block to his worhsop and grinding it down to look even more gun-like. He never once questioned me or put me down about it, only helped to make my fantasy better. He even carved me a slingshot of my very own to use.

    Of course today I abhor gun play, but what was important was that my Grandpa honored my creativity and my unique sense of play.

    He was often a distant, sometimes scary and guff man, but I will always always remember that gentle kindness he showed me.

    wesleyjeanne’s last blog post..Owen’s List

    • @wesleyjeanne, what an absolutely moving story. I so passionately believe that when adults take the time to meet children in the world of play, the impact on their little lives is huge. Thanks for sharing such beautiful testimony to that.

      Megan’s last blog post..postponed

  3. By the way, right now my daughter is creating an island kingdom by her wading pool with cast-off plastic plant pots (the ones the plants come in from the nursery before we replant them in ceramic).

    wesleyjeanne’s last blog post..Owen’s List

  4. I grew up making rock critters with Grandpa!

    Jenn @ Beautiful Calling’s last blog post..Death Before Birth: A Mini Series on Fridays

  5. So sweet!


    steadymom’s last blog post..Staycation Thought for the Day

  6. I agree, it’s the simplest things around you that back the best imaginative play. When my kids were little we were always going on rock hunts or collecting shells or gum nuts or interesting leaves and turning them into something else. One year we collected dried gum leaves and used them as thank you cards on the teachers end – of – year presents (they are very easy to write on). Once I gave them a whole lot of kitchen utensils like sieves, strainers, dish mops etc and told them to turn them into puppets. The results were amazing.

    • @trixi, you know, my toddler adores playing the utensils from the kitchen utensil crock. I swear she prefers that over any of the toys in her room!

      Megan’s last blog post..postponed

  7. I’m so glad I read this. My 2 1/2 year old just picked up a rock outside and has been so happy with her new friend “rocko” (She must have gotten this from Sesame St.) Painting rocks would be heaps of fun. We’ll have to plan to do this soon!

    Donna S’s last blog post..Help For the Helpless Homemaker

    • @Donna S, We had a remarkably fun time painting Shelly! And honestly, it’s one of those things I probably would not have come up with on my own – especially since I already had a totally different project in mind. We’ll still try to do the story stones one of these days, but she has had some much fun embellishing and playing with Shelly – I’m happy to just let it be for now.

      So glad this sparked a good idea for you and your little one. have fun creating!!

      Megan’s last blog post..postponed

  8. Hi Megan –

    Shelly seems to be the perfect little rock friend! Thanks for showing us your process and for linking. Your site is just beautiful and inspiring. I wish Shelly could come over and play with our mouse stones in real life and not just virtually. 🙂

    xo emily

    emily’s last blog post..tidal

  9. When my daughter was a young un’, she adored cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes and used to turn them into pirate caves and princess castles. I,on the other hand, was all about finding little nooks and crannies in our garden, declaring them “fairy gardens” and then decorating them with mosses and stones and bits and pieces from my bedroom – so that the fairies had somewhere nice to dance at night 🙂