Super Cute Painted Rocks Your Kids will Love to Paint

I’ve always wanted to make painted rocks with my kiddo, so the last time we went camping I packed an art box.

(Ok, I always pack an art box when we go camping because, duh, my kid loves to craft.)

A painted Be Awesome rock in the grass

There are two kinds of painted rocks. First are the “inspirational” rocks that people love to paint and scatter around for other people to find. Or you know, just “scatter” around their garden.

Second are the painted rock animals, sort of an upgrade on the old 70’s Pet Rock fad.

Somewhere my mother has a pet rock mouse I made in 3rd grade.

When I told Mitch I was wanted to paint rocks for the blog he went out of the box in typical Mitch style…

My kid made a pet rock apartment
Yep. A pet rock apartment complete with bathroom. You can’t see the microwave and bed from this angle. ?‍♀️

Let’s move on, shall we?

Kindness ROCKS

Rock painted with Be Happy in blue paint

We can thank the Kindness Rocks project for the recent popularity of painting rocks. Megan Murphy has been inspiring people to paint uplifting messages on rocks and leaving them for other to find since 2015.

Our intention is simple, to create kindness for unsuspecting recipients dropped along the way because… “One message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day…outlook…life!”

Megan Murphy, Kindness Rocks

Where can you find the Best Rocks for Painting?

Ah, that’s a tricky question! You may have noticed that all the really pretty painted rocks on Pinterest are perfectly smooth, very round rocks. Not exactly the sort of rocks you find out in the woods here in the Midwest.

Not all rocks are good enough for painting. These lumpy rocks were picked up while camping
Lumpy rocks collected on a Missouri camping trip.

The best rocks for painting are worn smooth by water. Here in the Midwest you might find a couple good one while creek walking. I assume people who live by bigger bodies of water can score some beach rocks.

But unless you’re planning a hike along the shore, you’ll just want to buy a few rocks.

You can find smooth rocks at your local craft store and on Amazon. They come in black, white and some natural shiny browns. If you’re wanting a LOT of rocks, and maybe some really cool BIG rocks, then check out your local landscaping store.

Always wash your rocks before painting. Locally sourced rocks will have pesky dirt on them and store bought rocks might be coated in wax to make them shiny.

What Kind of Paint do you use on Rocks?

So you’re ready to paint some rocks? Great!

Mitch and I tested a few different kinds of paints on rocks we found at camp–you can use just about anything!

kid paints rocks with acrylic paint pen on a camping trip

I packed paint pens and Sharpies for our painted rocks project since we’d be away from the house and a ready water supply. We also found that crayons are pretty good for adding background color to our painted turtle rocks!

But the best paint for the job requires a brush and steady hand:

Acrylic Patio Paint is the best paint for the job. It’s custom blended for outdoor use.

Patio Paint is twice as much as plain ol’ craft acrylic, but at $2 bucks a bottle it’s still pretty cheap. It will also save you the time (and cost) of applying a sealant.

Rock painting is popular enough that you can even find paint LABELED FOR ROCKS. But it’s just outdoor paint. No biggie.

How to Seal Painted Rocks

If you don’t use outdoor paint, you’ll need to seal the finished rock with a weather proof sealant. Mod Podge makes the best sealant for rocks no matter how you’ve painted them.

Just apply two or three coats of Mod Podge Outdoor–not the regular stuff!

Easy Painting Ideas for Kids

If you’re painting rocks with kids you’ll want to keep it simple! Basic patterns–rainbows, stripes & swirls–are great starting points. Kids can also paint the rocks a solid color and add an inspirational phrase with a Sharpie or paint pen.

Here’s a few easy quotes to get you started!
(Feel free to print it out.)

sample quotes to put on painted rocks

Painted Rock Animals

Are your kids more interested in creating rock animals to decorate your plants and garden? There’s tons of ways to do that!

Mitch and I made turtles by collecting rocks of various sizes then painting them in shades of green and blue. We used paint pens, Sharpies and crayons on the turtles. Later we glued the parts together and added googly eyes!

rocks painted to look like turtles

Painted lady bugs are really easy and cute. This one from Simple Everyday Mom is all paint–but I know Mitch would add googly eyes to these.

painted rock lady bugs easy enough for kids to paint

I found a cool snake made of black rocks and patterns–the rocks are not connected, so you can lay it out any way you want.

Here’s some rock monsters! They’re really just silly faces–super easy!

Painting Rocks for Gardens

When I was looking around for painted rock ideas, I found these garden marker rocks. They’re so cute–gotta love a practical craft!

painted rocks for the garden