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It seems that as soon as they can throw, children are fascinated by throwing rocks into water. I have spent countless hours standing riverside and watching my kids pick up rocks to toss into the slowly moving water. The splash of the water, the ripple and splunk sound occupy them for hours.
But we can't always be riverside or lakeside to enjoy playing with rocks and water. We have discovered other ways to play with Water, Sand, Rocks, and Clay (which is the title and topic of a fun little song by Brady Rymer). At the children's museum, there is a big slab of rock and some paint brushes and cups of water. Until the stone is soaked, toddlers paint and paint and paint and inspired me for some water painting at home.
Living in the desert means that there is a lot of stone in the neighborhood. There are gravel yards instead of grass, cinder block privacy fences, and rock-filled ditches for water run-off during monsoon season. My favorite resource for rock and water play are the cinder block fences and the sidewalks. Arm a child with a condiment squeeze bottles that has been filled with water and watch them paint! Or you can opt for my preschool engineer's favorite painting tool - the roller. You choose a big one or a little one and change the size of the nap on the sponge and let your child get crazy painting the fence. My kid loves to paint the wall as well as the patio floor and the sidewalks.
The hidden bonus of the roller as a toy for a preschool engineer is when you remove the paint sponge and let them inspect the rotational translational motion. Pushed through the grass, the paint roller looks like a push mower. Those old-school push mowers are everywhere in Richard Scarrey's books and there is also one in "Just for You" by Mercer Mayer.
Again, I am amazed by rocks. As a parent with children of my own I remember and delight in these simple materials. And again I have been surprised by how a seemingly benign thing like a paint roller can be repurposed for a child's play.
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