Everyday, Simple Idea #25: Painting Rocks and Other Things

I am sharing some of the simple, daily things I do at home as a Mom that come from my occupational therapy background.

painting rocksEveryday, Simple Idea #25: Painting Rocks and Other Things

My toddler and preschooler love to paint.  We use all kinds of things for painting (see my post about painting with water), but one of my favorite variations is to find unique things to paint.  Most recently, we painted rocks to decorate our front step and to put in our fairy garden.


  • It is interesting and enjoyable for children.  Traditional arts and crafts can get boring, even to children (and especially for children who may not be drawn to fine motor tasks or who struggle with fine motor skills).  Children often feel like they are getting a special privilege to be allowed to paint something other than paper.painting sticks
  • It teaches hand skills.  Holding a paint brush helps build the hand and grip skills that children will use for handwriting and other dexterity tasks (like buttons and zippers).
  • It encourages the use of 2 hands (called bilateral skills).  Many children struggle to use both hands together in a coordinated way.  By painting different sizes and shapes of objects, it requires the use of both hands together.
  • It promotes visual processing skills.  Compared to painting on flat paper, painting on 3 dimensional objects challenges the visual system as the child turns and manipulates the object they are painting.
  • It elicits creativity, problem solving, and other higher level thinking skills.  This encourages the development of the frontal lobe for executive functioning skills.
  • Cheap and easy.   Not necessary a therapeutic benefit, but a practical one.  You can paint on many old objects around the house to recycle them.

What to paint?painting tubes

  • Rocks
  • Leaves
  • Acorns
  • Sticks
  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Paper cups
  • Tennis ball
  • Old greeting cards
  • Paper bag
  • Empty boxes (like tissues or shipping boxes)
  • Sea shells
  • Use your imagination!

painting acorns


Looking for other ideas for home to promote hand skills (fine motor, dexterity, and bilateral skills):

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net