For this activity, your child will need a basket or bucket to collect stones in. You will also need pieces of paper/cardboard with shapes drawn on them.
(See the picture below) 

 If you don’t have stones then you can instead use buttons, beads, or pieces of Lego/Duplo. Alternatively, you can make beads out of Salt Dough. (Salt Dough is like playdough that becomes hard when cooked. There’s a recipe for Salt Dough at the end of this post). 

From now on, when I say “stones” – I mean stones or whichever material you’re able to find 🙂 

Once your child has collected their stones, it’s time to get them to imaginatively engage with them.

Pose one of the following questions to your child (or if they’re resistant to questions…challenge them, make it fun!)

  • “Can you create a pattern that repeats?”
  • “Can you order your stones? (Ask them how they’ve ordered the stones) 
  • “Can you make a picture using your stones?” (Ask them to describe their picture) 
  • “Can you develop a game using your stones?” (Ask them if their game has rules) 

Alternatively, allow your child to look at/play with their stones unimpeded. They may surprise you and begin making pictures and patterns with them on their own. 

If your child needs a little more structure or direction you could try the following: 

  • Ask them to place the stones on the lines which are on the paper. 
  • You could write the first letter of your child’s name (or their whole name) on the paper and ask them to lay their stones out on this.

Salt Dough Recipe:
(We recommend involving your children in the making of Salt Dough. They love to cook, mix and some like to get a bit messy!) 

You will need: 

  • A cup of salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3⁄4 cup of water


  1. In a large bowl, mix the salt and flour together.
  2. Gradually stir in water. Mix well until it forms a doughy consistency.
  3. Turn the dough onto the bench and kneed with your hands until smooth. 
  4. Mould the salt dough into stone shapes. 
  5. Place them into the oven at 150oC.
    The amount of time needed to bake depends on the size and thickness of the salt dough creations. A Low and Slow oven works best to dry the items out and turn them, to make sure they dry evenly.

For Extra Fun:                                                                                                           
Why not paint your Salt Dough stones with acrylic paints and seal with varnish,  polyurethane spray or PVA glue (it dries clear).

Benefits of this Stone activity: 
– Placing the stones in a particular order is the beginning of numeracy known as pre-numeracy. This helps their cognitive development and sees them acquire thinking strategies used in problem-solving, such as persistence and creativity. 
– This meets the 4th Learning Outcome of the Early Years Learning Framework (Children are confident and involved learners). It helps children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem-solving. It also helps children develop dispositions for learning.  
– Placing the stones on the lines, also encourages concentration and aids their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.