Character Rocks: An End of Year Student Gift

One of my favorite end of year traditions is passing out character rocks to my students. This school-wide tradition was started by my current principal (retiring this year- so sad!) Every year, each classroom teacher thinks of a word that they feel describes each student. We paint that word on a rock. If the child starts our school in kindergarten, they will have have 6 different rocks when they leave for middle school!

While it is very time-consuming and sometimes stressful (with all of the end-of-year craziness!), the kids LOVE it, and so do I! I posted some pics on our instagram account and received lots of questions. So I thought I'd blog about the process.

 (Everyone does their rocks differently. I like to paint mine so I'm sharing the steps for that. Scroll  to the end of this post to see examples of other teachers' rocks.)

1. Our booster club provides the rocks. I give them a quick rinse and then paint the backgrounds with acrylic paint. 

I like this brand which can be found at Michaels. 

2. Next, I paint the designs. I try to stick with simple designs with bright colors. You may need to do more than one coat for the lighter colors. Note: Stars are HARD!

 3. The next step is to write the words. I came up with the adjectives for each student before starting. I like to write the words big and bold. I used a sharpie paint pen. I'd be lying if I said I didn't paint over a few of my words for some re-dos!

4. On the back, I write the student's name, year, and my name.

5. Once it's all dry, I brushed on a clear glaze. I've used a spray glaze in the past and some of the words smeared. This year I used Triple Thick at the recommendation of a Michael's employee, 
and I think it was a little too thick. It worked though!

Our principal also gives us a character rock each year.
We always look forward to seeing what he picks. Here are some of our rocks from past years.

There you have it! Here are some examples of rocks created by other teachers.

These awesome super-hero rocks are by one of my teammates. He ends the year with a super-hero unit, and the kids think these are the coolest!

 Love the puff paint on these!

These are amazing with their very personalized touches.

These precious polka-dot rocks are created by our friend Jordan of Hey Hey First Grade! :)

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  1. Thank you so much for this post on how you do the rocks. I'm excited to do this next year.

  2. I just LOVE this idea so much! The rocks all turn out so cute!

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  5. Where can you purchase the rocks?

    1. Hello! Our Booster Club purchased the rocks from a local landscape company.

  6. Do you have a letter/explanation to go along with the character rock?

  7. Love this! I too would like to know where to purchase the rocks. Also, what did you use to write on the backs of the rocks? Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Hello! Our Booster Club purchased the rocks from a local landscape company. I used paint markers to write on the rocks. -Jana

  8. Thank you so much. I tried your idea and loved it! I can hardly wait to pass the rocks out to my first graders! You "rock!"


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