Originally published in Toy Insider Magazine on July 11th, 2022.
Did you know that the oldest known cave paintings date back to at least 45,000 years ago? With the National Geographic River Rock Craft Kit from Blue Marble, kids can learn about the history of rock art all while making their own rocking creations.
This STEAM kit comes with almost everything kids ages 6 and up need to design their own rock art, including 15 smooth river stones, 10 paint colors, 30 googly eyes, two sheets of transfer stickers, a paint palette, a paintbrush, and a learning guide with instructions. The only household item you’ll need to grab is a wet sponge or towel.
Each included stone is a different shape and size, but they are all smooth enough to paint or transfer an image onto. They are a decent size, too — my kit even came with a stone that could barely fit in my hand!
Kids can use the brush to paint their own designs onto the stones with complete creative freedom. If they struggle with painting their designs, they can sketch their art on the rock first with a pencil or marker and then go over it with paint. They can also follow along with one of the 10 step-by-step designs, which show kids how to create a garden snail, an owl, a strawberry, a lion, a green tree frog, a penguin, a cactus, a hedgehog, a rabbit, or a tiger on their stones. Kids can then apply the sticky googly eyes to their creations to add an extra, fun element.
My favorite feature of the kit was the transfer stickers. These sheets feature a variety of images from nature, including cuddly creatures, big bugs, and paths of prints. Kids can cut out an image from the sheet and apply it to the stone with the wet sponge or towel. The water releases the image onto the stone, like a temporary tattoo. Then, kids can paint the decal any colors they want. Kids will need to be sure that they completely saturate the back of the sticker with water, otherwise, it may not apply thoroughly.
Some paint colors may come out as more translucent, which makes them perfect for painting over the transferred decals. For original artwork or following the step-by-step guides, though, I recommend painting on multiple layers to create vibrant color.
While creating rock art, kids can also learn about the art form’s origins. The learning guide teaches kids the difference between varieties of rock art while explaining how prehistoric artists made “paints” from the natural environment around them.
When all the rocks are decorated, kids can put them around their gardens, backyards, or homes to show off their creativity. No matter what they choose to make, this kit provides kids with the stepping stones toward a love of history, nature, and art!