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Lizard Stones

At Tinkergarten, one of our favorite ways to play with rocks is to transform them into creature friends. In this activity, kids turn ordinary rocks into lizard friends, then use objects from nature to create imaginary spaces and play experiences for lizards. Here’s how:

The Guide

Make stone lizards: Use a permanent marker to make simple lizard drawings on rocks. We really love the simple line art design inspired by the Mimbres people (see below).

To add color variation to your lizards, use different colored markers for each stone. Or, paint your stones with acrylic paint before adding your lizard drawings. To help kids explore the concept of camouflage, paint some of the rocks with bright colors not often found in nature and some rocks with nature-based colors (or leave them unpainted).

Play! Invite kids to invent their own ways to incorporate lizard stones into their play. Or, try out some of our favorite ways to play with lizard stones:
  • Hide-and-seek: Hide your lizard friends around your outdoor space and invite kids to find them. To introduce the concept of camouflage, notice together which lizards were easier or harder to spot and wonder why. Then, kids can hide lizard friends for you to find!
  • Color sort: Many lizards have bodies colored to blend in with their surroundings. Walk around your outdoor space with your lizard friends and hunt for objects in nature that have similar colors to each of your lizards. Sort your found nature treasures into piles based on color.
  • Make a hideout: Select a spot in your outdoor space for kids to create a special hideout for a lizard friend. What would the lizard need to feel safe and secure? What objects from nature could your child use to keep lizards hidden from predators?
  • Lizard playground: Lizards like to play, too! Offer a bin or bowl, some nature treasures and a container of water and invite kids to make a special playspace just for lizard friends. Let kids know that sometimes lizards like to warm up in the sun and sometimes they cool off in the water. Wonder how lizards might like to play, what features might be found in a lizard playground and what materials they could use to create them.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Hunting for colorful lizard friends is a super way to introduce kids to the concept of camouflage in an age-appropriate way. Hunting for various colors on a natural background also helps children develop both their sense of sight and their ability to focus. When playing hide and seek, kids learn to problem solve and think strategically about what makes a good hiding place. Thinking about the needs of another creature is also a super way to boost kids’ empathy skills.
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