Hopefully you’re spending some pleasant time with your family this week, so here’s a family-focused activity for you. This is an art project I learned from my former colleague Saeda when we were doing a curriculum project on families in our 2’s-and-3’s classroom a few years ago. You’ll think it’s a little too abstract a concept for 2’s to understand, but believe me, they get it.
Get yourself a big collection of rocks. A range of sizes between grape and apricot is good, and it’s nice to have a range of colors—though personally I wouldn’t use “jewels” or anything. I like to use river rocks, or polished stones that you can get pretty cheap at a garden or aquarium store.
Each child gets a piece of cardboard, say six or eight inches square. “We’re going to make rock families,” you say. “Choose a rock for each person in your family.” With each rock they choose, they can glue it down on the cardboard. They can use Elmer’s glue and you can go back with hot glue later, or you can be the hot-gluer and glue where they tell you, or you can allow kids to use hot glue themselves with careful supervision if they’re old enough (personally I’d say 5). Younger children may need a little prompting to start: “Which rock is your brother? Who else is in your family?” But mostly, in my experience, they get the hang of it right away. As rocks get glued down, make sure you write down each rock’s name right next to it. If you miss a few, I promise the kids will remember later.
It’s amazing how much subtlety even very young children approach this project with. Some will just do the family that lives in their house; some will include wide extended families; some will include friends and teachers and stuffed animals. Some will choose rocks proportionally-sized for the people they represent; some will choose rocks proportionally-sized for how they think of the people (the biggest one is Mommy; five different rocks are my baby brother; etc.). Some put all the rocks close together; some arrange them very thoughtfully.
When you line up all the rock families together, you clearly see the personalities of the different children shining through. I frequently have see families look at their child’s work and laugh in recognition of their ideas. Everyone is charmed.