How to make rock bugs

making rock bugs image

Last week I took the boys down to a nearby country park after school. Due to the fact that I’m not at all organised they ended up getting muddy in their school uniforms but I’m pretty sure the recklessness of it all made the outing all the more fun.

As we arrived it started to drizzle and I thought we were doomed but as the boys ran off, excited about our impromptu adventure, I decided to carry on regardless. Who am I to spoil the fun?

boys running on bridge running on path

Luckily, drizzle was all the weather had to offer and so with no sign of torrential downpour we found a little spot by the river that was perfect for collecting our treasure. The treasure of small, round pebbles.

I gave the boys a small bag each and asked them to think about what kind of stones would make great bugs. We talked about the shapes, the length, the ladybird suitability factors. Once they had collected the ten a-piece I’d asked from them I suggested we leave, but the boys were having a wonderful time! We ended up staying there for a good hour, skimming (chucking without any skill whatsoever) stones in the water and finding rocks to make into ‘mountains’.

pebble skimming

As I headed back to the car with my two damp but happy boys, I vowed to do more of this kind of thing regardless of the weather because they genuinely enjoyed getting to run around in the mud. Silly of me to even consider that they might not like it, really.

We couldn’t just go straight back to the car, though. First there had to be some sculpture trail investigation and some tree (stump) climbing, naturally.

Irwell Sculpture Trail tree climbing

Back at home we set about our bug-making task. Our first job was to wash the stones and I was amazed pleased to see the boys assign themselves roles when they did this. Rowan washed, Louis dried – and without prompting from me. For two squabblers this was real progress!

We then moved on to the painting. I made a ladybird first, to show them what I was hoping their pebbles would end up like – and then they completely disregarded my careful demonstration and made whatever they wanted.

Where Rowan was concerned, ‘whatever they wanted’ apparently constituted ‘a mess’. But oh, what a wonderfully cheeky grin!

not the plan
cheeky face

Here we have my ladybird, complete with spots, antennae and a rosy red smile. We have a snail (a joint effort) and a bee without any wings. We don’t hold that against him though, because there’s no discrimination here.

bugs 1

Sitting atop the red and blue mountain (I think it’s from a land far away) is  another ladybird. This one was masterfully created by Louis.

I achieved the swirl effect on the snail by painting him green before using the top of a thin paintbrush to gently swirl the tiniest bit of orange into the wet green paint.


And finally … a snake in the grass! This one is Rowan’s creation and he is super proud of it. I think you can see why. I’m pretty sure he had no intention of achieving such a wonderful mixture of colour, but I’d say it worked out well for him.

rock bugs snake on grass

We just used regular kids paint and dried them overnight before sticking on the googly eyes. I think they’re all rather sweet, don’t you?

The boys thoroughly enjoyed this entire project and are quite protective of their rock bugs now. I think this week I’ll do a small world activity and incorporate their new stony friends. These are the easiest pets we’ve ever had!

Mini Creations

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


  1. Love these rock bugs – they look great and what a wonderful craft activity – plus your boys looked like they had a lot of fun getting the rocks. Love Rowan’s cheeky grin whilst painting 🙂

  2. Lucas says – Now this is right up my street. A bit of outside play inspiring some messy art work which is absolutely blinkin’ awesome by the way!! Loving these bugs! Thanks for linking to #minicreations

  3. Love this! I’m a Lancashire lass although I live in Hertfordshire now but love the North West, still my home as far as I’m concerned! The stone bugs are fab, my boys made simialar ones at school, I should do more stuff like this at home with them 🙂 #CountryKids

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