A girl painting rocks

13 Rock Painting Ideas to Try

The 13th of July is international rock day. And in celebration of this, I thought we should explore the art of rock painting. In fact, I want us to include it in our fun things to do with kids at home.

Fun rock painting ideas include kindness rocks, cartoon characters, flower rocks, emojis, and national flags. Rock painting is a fun and therapeutic activity for kids and parents. Painting rocks is about the experience, unlike canvas or paper; kids don’t have to worry about the outcome.

More importantly, it’s a calming activity that can benefit kids struggling with poor concentration, under/overstimulation, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. It’s simple enough that anyone can take part and have a blast.

What You Need for Rock Painting

  • Smooth rocks. You can find such stones along the beach and parks or buy a few at a gardening store or on Amazon. Here’s the best time to visit the beach.
  • Acrylic craft paint or patio paint
  • Acrylic clear finish
  • Craft pen
  • Micron black outline pen
  • Sealer
  • Sponge brushes

Amazon has a complete kiddy rock painting kit with everything your child needs, including the rocks.

Preparing rocks for rock painting

Rock Painting Process

Painting rocks involves more than smearing acrylic paint on a smooth stone. Following these steps will give you better-looking, long-lasting results.

  1. Wash and dry the rocks. Rocks come with dirt, sand, and other particles. Scrub them with water and a brush, then air-dry the rocks outside.
  2. Apply a base coat. While you can go directly to design ideas, I recommend applying a base coat first. This gives the rock a smoother, more uniform backdrop for your designs. Choose the base color depending on what you want to draw on the rock.
  3. Paint the design. Once the base coat is dry, go in with your paint pen and draw what you want. You can use a free-hand design or tracing method from the ideas below.
  4. Outline the design with a darker/black color to highlight what you’ve drawn.
  5. Seal. Finish the job with a clear finish or sealant to protect the rock from drying, cracking, and the paint from wearing off. Ideally, you should wait 24 hours for the paint to dry before applying the sealant to avoid paint bleeding.

What are Some Ideas for Painting Rocks?

Again, there is no right or wrong way to paint rocks-it’s a matter of having fun and spending time together. But if you are wondering what some ideas for painting rocks are, you have come to the right place.

I start by perusing Pinterest to get rock painting ideas. You can also connect with rock painting communities on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram.

But if you just want a few ideas and where to get them, check out these 13 examples.

1. Flower Rocks

Let’s start simple- flowers. They are colorful and easy to draw, and it will be loads of fun to paint the different colors. You can start with a single flower, such as a sunflower, or draw many small flowers on the same stone. 

This is a fantastic rock painting idea for summer and spring. In fact, I get new flower ideas for our next painting session every time we go for a family hike. We have an article highlighting fun hiking activities like flower naming and rock hunting. Read it and learn how to kill two birds with one stone.

2. Ocean Animals

When we first started rock painting with the kids, they decided to draw ocean animals on their rocks. To be fair, this was right after a visit to the aquarium, but it was a great idea nonetheless. The ocean has an endless list of animals to draw on rocks and talk about them. Start with a simple fish, turtle, shark, and octopus.

3. Kindness Rocks

These are rocks inscribed with kindness or inspirational messages. The rock has a plain base color that serves as the backdrop of the message. It could be one-word messages or simple phrases.

We added a little flower on the side to make the rock more beautiful, but the message is loud and clear. Notice also the contrast in colors? It’s all about details.

4. Food Rocks

I saw this on our Facebook rock painting community page and thought it was awesome. After all, we always have food in mind.

Think about a category of food you want to paint (fruits, veggies, snacks) or the shape of the rock and decide from that. I like vegetables and fruits because they are easier to draw, and the colors don’t have to be perfect. Carrots, watermelon, oranges, and strawberries are great places to start.

You can also do pastries like donuts, cupcakes, and even ice cream cones.

5. Emojis

This one has to be the best rock painting idea I’ve seen so far, and it turns out so well. Pick the medium size, smooth rocks and paint them yellow, the emoji color. After that, you only need to open the phone and copy your favorite emojis.

As a note, the rocks don’t have to be circular like the phone emojis. In fact, I find they look funnier if the stone has a weird shape.

6. Christmas and Winter Rocks

As it turns out, making hot chocolate and snowmen are not the only winter activities. You can sit around the fire and paint Christmas and winter-inspired rocks.

Make a note of anything that reminds you of the Christmas season and winter. Gifts, snowmen, gloves, Christmas trees, Christmas ornaments, and Santa. You can also write words associated with this season on the rock.

Last year, my daughter painted the different parts of Olav, the snowman from Frozen, and then put them together on the floor. It was hilarious and immensely creative.

7. Cartoon Characters

Painting rocks with a young child? How about their favorite cartoon characters, or at least those they can draw? The most common I have seen is SpongeBob and Patrick, but you can do any cartoon you like. Think DC characters, minions, Monster Inc., Thomas and his friends, and even the power puff girls.

The child’s ability to draw a particular cartoon character and paint it matters, but you can help them.

8. National Flags

Painting rocks may be fun and therapeutic, but it can also be an opportunity to teach. You can use this activity to teach the child about animals, plants, countries, etc. An interesting lesson would be learning about different national flags.

Start with the most famous flags- your country, USA, UK, Australia, and the rest. Alternatively, place a flag chart before them and let the child choose.

9. Cars

My daughter is absolutely obsessed with McQueen and tries to draw the red car daily. But as you can see from this picture, the drawing doesn’t have to be perfect. Kids, especially boys, love drawing cars and will enjoy doing it even more on rocks. Tell them to draw their favorite vehicles and step back to watch.

10. Insect Rocks

Ever noticed that the first thing kids learn to draw is insects and animals? Take advantage of that when rock painting. I have seen kids paint amazing ladybugs and butterfly rocks. However, any easy-to-draw insect, especially spiders, worms, and flies, will do. Do not worry so much about the quality of the picture as long as the child knows what they are painting.

11. Rainbow and Color-blocking Rocks

This should have been number one on this list because it’s so simple yet mesmerizing. The fact that you need so many colors to finish makes it more fun, and the result is always exciting. There’s just no way to ruin a color-blocking art piece, even if you tried. The best part is that no drawing is required- simply go in with paint and have a blast.

12. Gold Rocks

There’s something about the color gold that makes everything beautiful. If you have yet to try it on a rock painting expedition, you are missing out. You will need very smooth rocks and a few coats of paint. 

We did this on around 30 small rocks and put them inside a crystal bowl for table decor. You can also spread them on a potted plant to make it more beautiful. Feel free to write lovely messages or words on the gold rocks.

13. Galaxy Rocks

One of the best advice I give kids when they want rock painting ideas is to look up and draw what they see. They mostly see the sun and clouds because it’s often during the day. But when we do this at night, they draw stars, the moon, weird-shaped clouds, and airplanes.

From an adult’s point of view, the galaxy may look quite different, but kids draw exactly what they see. Help to choose the base color so the painting will pop.

Now that you have painted 5, 10, or even more rocks, what do you do with them? The most exciting part of rock painting has been hiding them for other kids to find. You can do this in parks, at the beach, or places where people usually go treasure hunting. Knowing someone will discover and enjoy your handiwork one day is incredible.

Alternatively, you can decorate your potted plants or make a centerpiece for your table with rocks. We also use painted rocks to decorate the garden paths or separate different sections. It is a fun concert, especially if you have a sensory garden in your backyard. Read this article to understand the significance of sensory gardens and how to create one for your family.