Drawing with Stones, Pebbles, and Rocks


Who among us has not stopped, on occasion, to pick up a stone in our path?  Drawn by the unusual color, shape, or delicate texture, we bend to touch this piece of mineral which has been altered by weather, wind, and water into its present form.  We turn it around in our hand, exploring it with all of our senses.


Teaching children to think like an artist. 


Artists are accustomed to transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary. Leo Lionni, the noted children’s illustrator and author, celebrates stones in his imaginative picture book titled On My Beach there are Many Pebbles.  Reading this book aloud to the children elicited much surprise and wonder.  “Those stones aren’t really real,” said more than one astute observer. How many of us have seen a whale stone, or one shaped as a cat, or the moon, or a silly face?  But then again…


This book challenged the children to look deeply at the stones with new eyes.  The art lesson called upon the children to use their own rich imaginations to transform these ordinary pebbles and rocks into their own visual surprise.


Getting Ready to Draw

I asked each child to choose several stones from a tray.  They were prompted to “Think, plan, and then draw.”  Children were encouraged to arrange the stones and then to trace around each stone with their pencil.  From that point on, they were free to embellish the drawing, adding details, colors, and a background, if needed.   


A Creative Drawing Lesson: Divergent Ends

“Drawing with Stones” is a lesson which encourages creative thinking and individual expression.   Each child must ask herself, “How will I use my stones?  Which stones shall I choose?  How will I arrange them?” “What else will I add to complete my picture?”   “What is my idea?”


When there is no model to copy, children must think for themselves.  On this display board are some of the children’s varied results from grades one through five.  Observe how one child placed their stones at the water’s edge while another chose to use their stones in an entirely different arrangement—to form a radial design—a flower, perhaps, or a sun.  Yet another child traced a long stone twice for the wings of a dragon, adding her own lines to tell the rest of the story.


Robin Brooks

Art, September 12, 2008