Looking for a fun and easy way to teach your kids about kindness? Consider joining the Kindness Rocks Project. The latest (and maybe the sweetest) craze to sweep the country has artists of all ages spreading happy thoughts by way of painted rocks. The idea is simple—paint something inspiring or cheerful on a rock, and leave it for someone else to find. Don’t know where to start? Read on!

What It Is

What’s a rock got to do with kindness? Plenty, according to Megan Murphy, the Massachusetts woman who accidentally started the Kindness Rocks movement two years ago when she scribbled a few inspiring words on a rock and left it on a Cape Cod beach. Her Kindness Rocks Project has since gained worldwide attention, with inspirational, hash-tagged rocks popping up in at least seven countries and garnering millions of views on social media.

“The project isn’t about rocks per se, it’s about connection,” Murphy said. “People find a rock, and they relate to the message on the rock. Then they connect with the fact that there is a human being on the other end of that rock, and they don’t feel so alone.” 

It can be as simple as scrawling “Hope” on a stone and tossing it on the sidewalk on your way to work, or as complex as painting an entire rock with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and leaving your masterpiece up for grabs.

photo: The Kindness Rocks Project via Facebook

How It Works

First, you should join a local rock-painting group. A quick Google or Facebook search of “kindness rocks” and your hometown will probably turn up something. If not, rev up the bandwagon and rock it on your own, like this altruistic seven-year-old from San Francisco.

photo: Kindness Rocks of SW Florida via Facebook

Here’s What You’ll Need

– Smooth rocks (you can scavenge outside for them or you can find a whole bag at Home Depot or on Amazon)

– Acrylic paint

– Paint brushes

– Fine point paint pens (optional, but makes writing words way easier)

– clear spray on sealer like Krylon for sealing rocks (parents should do this)

photo: Melissa Heckscher

Step One: Prep Your Rock
Since rocks are porous, it’s best to lay down a layer of paint to act as a primer and backdrop for your finished masterpiece. No need to paint the bottom of the rock (that just makes it harder to handle as it’s drying).

photo: Melissa Heckscher

Step Two: Write Something (or Paint a Picture)
When the primer coat is completely dry, let your littles use a paint pen to write something on their rock. To help them come up with something, try asking them simple questions about kindness: What is kindness? What is a “kind” thing to say? What message would make you happy to see on a rock? What could you hear someone else say that would make you feel special?

And, don’t feel bound by words. Painting cute or happy pictures works, too (Smiley faces and rainbows, anyone?)!

Step Three: Hashtag It! 
To make sure whoever finds your rock knows it was meant to be found—and hopefully inspires her to keep the tradition going—write a hashtag on your rock so you can check social media to see when and if your rock is shared with the world. Our favorite is #thekindnessrocksproject, but there are gobs of smaller groups out there for those who want to keep it local.

photo: Melissa Heckscher

Step Four: Seal It
Once your rock is completely dry, spread a layer of Mod Podge over it. This will keep the paint from chipping and will seal it against water (plus it will make your rock look shiny and awesome).

photo: The Kindness Rocks Project—Uxbridge, Massachusetts via Facebook

Step Five: Leave Your Rock Somewhere to Be Found
Let your kids scatter their well-wishes around your neighborhood, in a park, or on the sidewalk on their way to school—basically, anywhere the rocks can be found by someone else!

Tip: Don’t hide your rock so well that it can’t be easily found—and don’t put it on private property where passersby will think it belongs to someone. 

Need Some Inspiration?

Check out these awesome creations to help ignite your own inner rock star!

photo: The Kindness Rocks Project – Uxbridge, Massachusetts via Facebook

Have you made a kindness rock? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

— Melissa Heckscher