For a long time, there were only four things my son was really interested in: bottle caps, snails (which he called babies), rocks and – lucky me – cuddle time with Mama.
He would spend hours making bottle caps spin on the floor or on his plate at dinner time. He would drop bottle caps, watch them bounce back off the floor or simply hold them in his hands, moving in closer to examine them with this intense look of happiness and peace on his face.
Snails made him giggle and jump into action. There were snails in need of rescue everywhere. In his room he collected empty snail shells. He had – and still has – a snail light, a snail pillow, a snail puppet and books about snails, the pages worn and sticky. Snails needed to be measured, their movements timed. Often they needed relocation.
Cuddle time was and is something we both cherish. Now his younger sister has joined us and we form hug circles and celebrate cuddle story telling hour. (Better than any happy hour you have ever been to !)
And rocks! For the love of rocks. Whenever we went for walks, my pockets would end up filled with them. My mom received quite a few generous rock donations for her garden as well. One day she bought my son a huge bag full of pebbles at a home improvement store and this boy, who had previously not cared for presents at all, jumped up and down (clapping, laughing, happy). THIS is how much he loves rocks. And until today, nothing beats the pleasure of throwing rocks into lakes or rivers.
Throwing rocks is what got my son into counting. Numbers are not his thing. Numbers are boring. But since it feels so good to touch rocks and throwing them into the water is such a thrill, counting along while throwing isn't too bad after all. (Neither is counting silly kisses during cuddle time by the way.)
It did not take long until I noticed that our (by then quite impressive) rock collection inspired learning and new discoveries constantly. One day, I decided to let the kids paint some rocks while I wrote the names of herbs and greens on my rocks to mark the plantings in my garden. Not long after that I found the rock with the word Zitronenmelisse (lemon balm) on the ground and sure enough, a leaf of lemon balm was carefully placed right underneath it. From that day on, we have used rocks in all kinds of ways to help us with learning while playing.
We have written numbers on rocks, letters and words. We have glued pictures on them to use them as story prompts or as word replacements when we lay sentences. My son loves to chop words up using a hammer or to saw them apart. There is so much we can do with rocks. We really enjoyed laying out a clock using rocks and sticks for example. (Until I used the rocks, my son would get very mad at me if I even mentioned the words reading and clock together.) We even used rocks to lay out faces to talk about feelings and facial expressions. We place them on a map of the world to mark a country that we want to learn more about. In short: Rocks are great !
Meanwhile the bottle caps have joined the rocks. They have numbers and letters on them. And they are still fun to spin or to toss. Our kitchen is full of rocks and bottle caps. I must admit that I does not look very neat, even when I try putting them into nice looking baskets, but I don't really mind. We need to have rocks handy at all times.
My son recently told me that he likes everything „On the Rocks“. And so do I.