story stones with bag

Story Stones: The Most Versatile Thing You’ll Make This Year

Ok, yes, that is a quite a claim, I know. It really is true, though. Anyone can make story stones and they’re fun at campfires, parties (children or adult), and even in the car. They’re a great way to have some unplugged creative time on holidays, too. The designs can be colorful or monochromatic, abstract or very realistic.

One of the best things about story stones is that they don’t require a lot of artistic talent. My freehand drawings skills are horrendous, but in oil-based marker, on tiny rocks, I get decent results. If you are good at painting or drawing, you can make some really detailed designs, but simple designs also look great on pebbles. All you need are a few basic things to make a set.

Here’s what you need to make story stones:

  • Oil-based markers
  • Small, mostly-flat pebbles that are fairly smooth
  • Plain paper to practice your designs
  • Drawstring bag to store them (optional)

There are lots of paints and markers that will work on stone. I prefer oil-based Sharpie markers because the color goes on smoothly and dries quickly. It also withstands abrasion and water, which is good if you’re planning to use the story stones on a camping trip.

How to find design ideas:

Choose a theme:

The first thing you want to do is to decide who will use the stones. Do you want to make one set for everyone, or more specific sets for different groups? Not that all the stones need to be things like martini glasses for adults and fairy tales for children, but sometimes themes can be fun:

Camping theme story stones
story stones with a camping theme
Halloween theme story stones
Halloween story stones

Practice the designs:

After you have your theme, you’ll want to practice your designs. If you have great artistic skills, and lots of pebbles, you can skip this step. For the rest of us, practice drawing what you want on paper, using a pen that has a similar tip to the oil-based markers you have for your stones. Sometimes I have ideas that I can’t quite draw the way I want. Like this whale, for example:

practice whale designs

It looks kind of like a whale, but not as good as other whale drawings I’ve seen. To get some help, try an internet search for “simple drawing _______”, and lots of images will appear. After looking for “simple drawing whale” I realized all it really needed to go from slug to whale was a spout:

beach theme story stones

Once you have your designs, the last step is drawing them on the stones. Yes, this project is that simple. Stone is difficult to draw on, but if you make a mistake it’s no big deal. You can wait for the ink to dry and draw over it, use the other side of the stone, or just grab another and try again.

set of story stones

Tips and tricks for drawing on the stones:

  • Make sure your stones are washed, dried, and free of any loose dirt and debris.
  • Press very lightly when you draw on them. The ink sometimes comes gushing out of the pens if you press too hard.
  • To add little bits of color, or to fill-in larger areas, try using a stippling technique.
  • If your stones are very smooth, or you really want to make sure the marker sticks, bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-30 minutes. I noticed a slight change in color when I did this with mine.
  • To make your own drawstring bag for storage, check out this Creatorvox post.

Things to do with story stones:

Story stones are a great activity for children’s birthday parties or Scout meetings. Have each child make a few, then break up into small groups or pairs. Taking turns, each child in the group draws one or more stones from one of the other children and tells a story to the group with those stones.

Another way to use them is to let people see all of the stones and choose the ones they want to use for their story.

Nature theme story stones

It’s especially fun with adults to pass just one stone around, like this one with a pickup truck on it:

truck story stone

Then have everyone tell a true story about whatever is on the stone. It will jog everyone’s memories and you’ll probably get an interesting mix of stories. I remember as a kid riding in the back of a truck to go strawberry picking. In the back. Of the truck. On the main road! No seat belts, roof, or roll-bars, and maybe ten kids? I remember how thrilling it was when we hit a bump and everyone bounced around. So much fun, but what were the grown-ups thinking?

If you are traveling with anyone who gets motion sick and can’t read or watch movies in the car, you can always pass the time with story stones. Of course if you’re going to make a set for traveling, it helps to pick really thin stones so they weigh less. I might have learned that one the hard way.

story stones with bag for travel

Have fun being creative with your story stones. As always, feel free to ask questions or leave comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to Creatorvox to get new posts right in your email. You can also follow Creatorvox on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more tips and tricks between posts. Thanks for reading, and happy making!

Have any questions or comments?