Third grade studies rocks and minerals in science. Ms. Hicks, 3rd grade Spectrum teacher, is always dreaming up ways to extend and enrich the study. We have collaborated together many times, and I always love leaping into something new. In the past, we’ve Skyped with a jewelry studio and designed our own jewelry. We’ve thought about climbing wall design and how the hardness of different rocks and minerals would support the design. Students even 3D printed prototypes of their climbing walls. This year we once again worked together to add a new layer to this science unit.
I’ve been watching lots of people getting involved in kindness rock projects locally and globally. The idea of these projects is to spread words of inspiration in the world through randomly placed rocks and inspire people to create good in the world.
Our local Athens Rock Project
I’ve found a few of these rocks myself and know that it gives you a bright moment in your day just to know that someone cared enough to create a piece of art intended for good.
Gretchen Thomas, UGA instructor, and I have been brainstorming the idea of weaving this project into makerspace, but we held off this semester. I passed the idea on to Ms. Hicks and we decided to give it a trial run.
We started by showing images of rocks and asking students if they had ever found a rock like these. I was surprised at how many stories were already in our small group of 15 kids. From a rock in a stream to a rock in the park, students had stories of words and images they had found on rocks.
Then we watched this video to consider the meaning of a project like this.
We also read an excerpt from If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian and Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. These books helped us think beyond a rock just being a rock but instead a symbol of something else.
At tables, students used an index card to plan out their rock. We wanted them to really take their time in planning so that they chose their words with purpose, so Ms. Hicks and I conferenced with students as they worked. They chose a word or phrase, wrote a short explanation of their choice, and sketched a design for their art. Students also selected a rock. All of this took one class session.
In the next session, students used paint pens and paint to design their rock. Most started by getting the word(s) onto the rock and then worked on design. If they finished early, they helped one another fan portions of rocks to get them dry enough to keep painting on.
My wonderful computer technician, Allie, added layers of Mod Podge onto the rocks before our 3rd session. Here’s where this project is taking a different turn that many of the kindness rock projects. We don’t really want to be random. We want the person who finds our rock to know a bit more about it.
In our 3rd session, we used Flipgrid to record videos to tell the story of our rock. Students talked about the reason they chose their word and even why they designed it the way they did. We also brainstormed what someone would need to know in order to get to the video we recorded.
I took this brainstormed and turned it into an information card to put with our rocks.
Instead of randomly placing the rocks, we are putting them all in one container. We’ve talked with Avid Bookshop in Five Points and will be placing this container somewhere outside the shop. Our hope is that people will select a rock, take an information card, watch the accompanying video, and hopefully leave a response video to the student.
It’s all a big experiment, and I’ve tried to be very open with students about that from the beginning. Anything could happen. We of course want every rock to be taken and for every person to leave a response, but we also know that might not happen. Whatever happens, we’ll know that our rocks have gone into the world and caused at least one person to pause for just a moment and think about kindness.
Before our rocks go to Avid, we’re making a few more. If your’e in the area, keep your eyes open in Five Points for a clear acrylic container near Avid Bookshop sometime this week!