Categories: Science

Simple Rock Mosaic Using Clay


For my sons, like many children, creating a piece of artwork is much more about the process than about the end product. If I can hold myself back, watching the process, watching an activity unfold in my sons’ world is extraordinary.

The Hook

As you know we’re embarking on a rock & mineral learning adventure. First, you have to hook the children. The idea is that you want them to want to learn more. So, we borrowed several children books about rocks, brainstormed a list of fun rock activities to do with children, and went on a short hoke to a nearby stream to gather rocks of all shapes and sizes.

To get you started check out these posts on rock activities:

The Goods

Base: We used a tray but you can use a variety of bases including a pie plate, the bottom of a terra cotta pot, or nothing at all.

Material: You can use a variety of materials including play dough (homemade or store bought), clay, and salt dough. We used up old store bought colorful clay we had sitting around our art supply cabinet. I put the bucket out in the sun to get the material nice and soft to work into the tray. Working clay is great for fine motor development and pre-writing. While we worked the clay, we talked about how clay comes from the earth.

Objects: We used rocks we had collected the day before, handmade gems, and pea gravel from our garden walkway.

“Think left and think right, think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.’    ~ Dr. Seuss

The Process

I set out the activity and called my son over to me. I began working the clay and asked him to fetch rocks. He was excited to push the rocks into the clay. He was excited to handle the clay. The sun had made it soft and lovely, even gooey in some spots.

I began to create designs in the clay with the rocks.

My son began creating a town. I let his imagination go with the rocks and with the digging. Soon, we had an ocean, land, forts, and rivers. Soon, we were living in an exciting imaginary world.

It was pretty awesome.  I think we’ll do it again tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,


Marnie Craycroft

Marnie hails from Maine where she spent summers buried in sand and winters buried in snow. She is the daughter of a nearly four decade veteran of the public school systems. Teaching has always been a part of her life. She founded Carrots Are Orange in 2010.

Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori learning and living website for parents and teachers.

Marnie graduated from Wesleyan University in 1999 with a BA in Economics. She spent nearly a decade working in investment management. In 2006, she earned her MA in business from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999 and currently lives in Boulder with her husband and three sons. She is Montessori trained. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, Huffington Post, and Besides writing, passions include running (usually after her three sons), photography, and outdoor adventures.

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