Story Stones – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Story Stones

Colorful, intricate designs on rocks can serve as inspiration for storytelling! Using imagination and originality will allow children to use chosen rocks as the basis for a story’s setting and characters.

Materials Required

  • Rocks
  • Gel Crayons
  • Chalk markers
  • Two baskets or bags


  1. Invite children to draw designs on rocks using the gel crayons or chalk markers. Their designs should be something that could be used as inspiration for a story’s characters (monkey, mama, sun) or setting (ocean, city, house).
  2. When finished, allow the rocks to dry. After drying, collect all the character rocks into one basket or bag, and all of the setting rocks into a different basket or bag.
  3. Invite children to pull one rock out of the setting bag and 1-3 rocks out of the character bag.
  4. In a small group, give each child time to tell a 3-minute story that incorporates the characters and/or setting drawn on the rocks they selected.

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Challenge a group of older children to use the story stones to work on creating a short, collaborative movie.
  • Invite children to paint the rocks using intricate designs like dots or spirals. Ask: how does the shape of the rock influence your design? Can you make a design using only dots?

Links to Creativity

This activity provides children an opportunity to work through the creative process! First, the child is asked to solve a problem with limited materials and an open-ended goal (Runco, 1994). Second, the child will generate ideas for what each stone can be—also known as divergent thinking—which can be taught (Torrance, 1972), and is a predictor of creative potential (Runco & Acar, 2012). Third, creating and elaborating upon these ideas by drawing them on the stones involves interpretation and self-expression (Torrance, 1988). Fourth, flexible thinking is challenged, as children try (and succeed, no matter the outcome) to fit these stone characters into a story (Lemons, 2005). Lastly, children can revisit this entire process with different stones, and can continue to create new characters and stories anytime they wish!

Supporting research includes:

Lemons, G. (2005). When the horse drinks: Enhancing everyday creativity using elements of improvisation. Creativity Research Journal, 17(1), 25-36.

Runco, M. A. (Ed.). (1994). Problem Finding, Problem Solving, and Creativity. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Runco, M. A., & Acar, S. (2012). Divergent thinking as an indicator of creative potential. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), 66-75.

Torrance, E. (1972). Can we teach children to think creatively?. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 6(2), 114-143.

Torrance, E. P. (1988). The nature of creativity as manifest in its testing. In R. J. Sternberg (ed.), The Nature of Creativity, pp. 43-75. New York: Cambridge University Press.



This activity was contributed by the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2016 Bay Area Discovery Museum. For more information and resources see

Story Stones

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