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Rock Races
Ages 5 to 8
Clear your garden of rocks fast.

What You Need

  • At least two children ready to race
  • Tools that can survive a little rough treatment: kitchen ladles, spoons, scoops, dippers, tongs, and so forth (or use garden tools that children can handle easily)
  • A small garden plot with the dirt already turned and loose
  • Rocky soil
  • Wheelbarrow, buckets, large boxes (optional)

What to Do

  1. Try each tool to see how it works to pick up and carry something. Practice for a few minutes with each tool. Which ones are better for small objects? Which would you use for a big object?
  2. Place the carrying tools and the containers at one end of the garden plot. Each person racing will make a separate pile of rocks.
  3. Explain how the race works, varying the time according to the age of the participants:
    • You have about three minutes to collect as many rocks as you can.
    • Choose a tool you think will be good for picking up and carrying rocks.
    • Find a rock and use your tool to pick it up and carry it back.
    • Drop the rock onto your pile and quickly go back to get more.
  4. Run the race again. Use the same tool, or choose a different tool—one that you think might be better.
  5. Play a third time and make the game a little harder. Use a different tool each time you pick up a rock. That means you have to grab it fast and keep moving.

What Else You Can Do

  • Sort the rocks according to different values: shape (round, flat, pointy); colors; size.
  • Adopt a "pet rock" and tell a story about your new pet.

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