Literacy and Math DIY Rock Games


Introducing developmentally appropriate things is sometimes tricky (especially with kid number one), I admit that I have jumped the gun on many things including both letters and games. I have been trying to teach L his letters for most of his very short life. When he was just days old I would read to him and wonder if he would ever actually look at the book. I am happy to report that he now loves books and will bring them to me to read all day. We usually sit down on the floor wherever he finds me and read the book because I am so happy that he loves them.

Anyway, back when he had just learned to crawl, I would take him to my parent’s house and he would immediately be drawn to the pile of rocks. One of my mother’s hobbies is rock painting and she always has several completed mandala type stones on the bottom shelf of her basement bookcase. Perfect eye level for a crawling baby.


L loved these rocks (more than he loved books at the time) so I decided to make him a set of similar looking rocks with a lowercase alphabet on them. Then, I went a little bit further and put pictures on each rock to go along with the letters. I, personally, like to paint and found the whole process very therapeutic (kind of like those adult coloring books). So, I made him a second set of alphabet rocks only this time they were capital letters.

During the last month, L has started recognizing objects and letters and being able to point to specific things when we ask him where they are. So, we can finally use the rocks for something other than colorful carpet decorations. Don’t get me wrong he has loved them the whole time but now we can play games with them. 

Game 1:

Match the correct lowercase letter to the correct capital letter. 

Game 2:

Match the correct capital letter to the picture that it goes with.

Game 3:

Modified memory game. Flip the capital letters over so you are just looking at rocks then flip them over to the letter side in alphabetical order. Find A first, followed by B, etc.

Game 4:

Read an alphabet or number book and find the matching rocks as you go through the book.

Alphabet Books:

Dr. Suess’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book

The Construction Alphabet Book

Alphabet (My one-year-old’s personal favorite)

Number Books:

My Very First Book of Numbers

Alphaprints: 123 (Another Favorite)

Tabbed Board Books: My First Numbers: Let’s Get Counting!


Game 5:

Use the number rocks to count real objects. For example, grab the 4 and have your child count out four alphabet rocks.

These games can easily be expanded upon or modified depending on the age of the child you are playing with. Furthermore, they could easily be made by an older child.

Give them a try and let me know in the comments what uses you come up with for your letter/number rocks.


  • 26-52 Rocks (I bought a whole bucket of small smooth rocks at a rock landscaping company for about $2.25)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush
  • Sponge brush
  • Something to make dots with (back of a paint brush, dowel, pin head, I use a set of these)
  • Something to put the paint on
  • Water

Step 1:

Wash the rocks and lay them out to dry. (This is my set of number rocks, that is why there are only ten)

Step 2:

Use the sponge brush to paint the front of all of them black and let them dry.

Step 3:

Use your paintbrush and some white paint to create block letters on each rock and let them dry. (Yeah I know they are numbers)

Step 4:

Use your stylus (or other dot making object) to create designs around each letter (or number) and let them dry.

If you choose to do something on the back of the rocks repeat the process.

Step 5:

Play your game or decorate your carpet.


If your child is little like mine was when I made these, make sure that the rocks that you use won’t be a choking hazard. I had to hide about 13 of my lowercase letters until recently because L thought that they might be a snack.

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