Family Crafting Month ~ Show Me a Story Winter Story Stones

on December 13 | in Products, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 59 Comments

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Family Crafting Month continues today with Emily Neuburger, teacher, freelance children’s craft designer and the author of Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling.

Update: Comment on today’s post to win a free copy of Show Me a Story!

You might know Emily from her Red Bird Crafts blog and her work on the FamilyFun magazine blog, Everyday Fun. Emily has two daughters, and a genius knack for sharing creative, open-ended projects and inspiration focused on crafting with kids. Her work constantly makes us want to drop everything, call the kids and create together (like a paper bag garland— perfect for collaborating with my two year old– or watercolor birds, just right for the seven year old).

Show Me a Story is a treasure, filled with fun, beautiful ideas to support storytelling for both younger and older children.

From the publisher:

Children love to make up stories, and group storytelling offers great fun as well as learning opportunities for families, classroom groups, and any gathering of friends.

      Show Me a Story

is filled with creative craft projects and activities for jump-starting and fostering imaginative narratives for children of all ages. From visual prompts for younger children, such as story stones and a storytelling jar, to word grab bags and journaling exercises for older ones, this book includes everything needed to spark an infinite number of child-created stories.

Emily joins us today with her Winter Story Stones project. Story Stones are one of our favorite projects in Show Me a Story! We share an excerpt from the book today for the project, and you can use Emily’s winter-themed stones below as inspiration for your own set of Story Stones.

Don’t forget: You can comment on today’s post to win a free copy of Show Me a Story!

Here’s Emily now, and the project instructions from the book are below:

I’m so happy to share my Story Stones project with you today! When I was first asked to guest post on Sew,Mama,Sew!, I immediately thought of all of the tiny, beautiful fabric scraps stuffed into my possibility bin. I love using those captivating bits in my collages, and I especially like using them when I make Story Stones.

Today, I invite you to gather up your scraps, find a pile of smooth stones, and make winter themed Story Stones with me.

Children love to take these fantastical stones on storytelling adventures. They make splendid holiday gifts and are just the right size for stockings. They also happen to be the perfect little something for a desk, shelf, or bedside table.

Make them, share them with friends, give them to your family, and watch how they make people smile.

I hope you love this project as much as I do! May your entrance into the coming winter season be warm, joyous, and full of possibility!
xox Emily

Story Stones
Excerpted from Show Me a Story (c) Emily K. Neuburger. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Stones covered with images create unique and intriguing storytelling toys. They can be used just about anywhere for a quick, fun, creative game. But beware; they’re addictive! Once they make one, your children won’t stop thinking of additions for their collection.

To make: At least 1 hour

To make: 5+ (with adult help)
To use: 3+



  • smooth stones of all shapes and sizes
  • small scrub brush
  • towel
  • pencil and paper
  • fabric pencil
  • bits of fabric and paper scraps
  • scissors
  • Mod Podge
  • foam brush
  • 1⁄8″ hole punch
  • string
  • small seeds (poppy, sesame)
  • toothpick or Q-tip
  • newspaper or wax paper

Photography (c) Buff Strickland

Notes on the Search for Stones
I like to collect throughout the year, so I don’t have to worry about running out of stones when the ground is buried under layers of crusty snow. Try to find a variety of shapes and sizes to ensure that you have many options. The ideal size and shape is a round or oval stone averaging 1½” to 2½” in both height and width. A smooth and flat surface is easier to work with than are rough or jagged surfaces. Search in forests, your backyard, the beach, meadows, lakes, ponds, and rivers.

A few years back, I found a beach where, for miles and miles, there were layers of small, smooth stones. The only containers I had on hand were two cloth grocery bags, and I filled them with stones — and I’ve gone back since to replenish my supply. It’s nice to conduct a purposeful stone search, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for stones when you aren’t intentionally looking for them. After making a bunch of Story Stones, you’ll soon be able to quickly size up stones for their potential. Leah and Hazel often join in and run to me with “the perfect” stone or toss a jagged stone aside while muttering “Nope.”

How to Make
1. To clean the stones, put them in a sink, fill the sink with water, and have someone who loves to play with water scrub each one with a brush. Once all of the stones are rinsed, place them on a towel in a warm spot to dry.

2. Enlist children to help design the different characters and objects for the stones, and make sketches or lists to help you remember what you want to create. You can also engage in a free-form creative process in which you decide what to make next while in the process of creating.

3. Using a fabric pencil, draw on your favorite fabric or paper the shapes that make up each character or object. Try drawing different parts of the shape onto different papers and fabrics to make a collaged image. This will give you more control over the way it looks in the end and enables you to experiment with a variety of colors and textures. Carefully cut out each piece.

4. Find a stone that works well with one of your character designs, and coat it with a thin layer of Mod Podge. Set the first shape from your design on the stone and coat with more Mod Podge. Use your fingertips to rearrange the design so that
it is positioned just right. Smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles.
Continue adding the pieces until the design is complete. Add circles of hole-punched paper, bits of string, even small seeds to create tiny details such as eyes, flowers, leaves, and food.

5. Put one last coat of Mod Podge over the finished design. It is very important that a layer of Mod Podge cover all of the design; use a toothpick or Q-tip to cover any of the tiny details or to pop any air bubbles. At this point, the Mod Podge will be white and opaque, which means it will be difficult to see your designs. Don’t fret! It will dry clear and smooth.
It isn’t necessary to coat the bottom of the stone with Mod Podge, and in fact, doing so will make it more difficult to dry the stones because unwanted bits of paper might attach to it.

6. Set the Story Stones on a piece of newspaper or wax paper to dry. Once the first layer is dry, you may want to apply a second coat of Mod Podge to give it extra protection. Let the stones dry fully; the top layer should feel completely hard— not tacky— before play begins.

Photography by Greg Nesbit Photography

How to Use
1. Encourage children to use the stones for imaginative, dramatic play in the same way they would use small dolls and toy figurines.

2. The stones can be used outside, in a dollhouse, on a table or play mat, or in the car. To keep them in tip-top shape, avoid splashing them or submerging them in water or another liquid.

3. Make sets of stones and store them in small bags, in boxes, or even in socks to preserve your collections
for future play.

Other Neat Ideas

  • Give Story Stones as small gifts or party favors.
  • Create thematic sets of stones: picnic, carnival, ocean, around the house, schooltime.
  • For younger children, 3+ years, invite them to just glue fabric and paper scraps onto the stones. These more abstract collage stones can become part of the storytelling process but don’t require specific cutting and placement skills.

Teaching Tip
For early-childhood educators, foreign-language teachers, and developmental specialists, the Story Stones are a creative way to teach vocabulary.

Excerpted from Show Me a Story (c) Emily K. Neuburger. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

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59 Responses to Family Crafting Month ~ Show Me a Story Winter Story Stones

  1. Fun ideas on things to do with my grandchildren!

  2. Debrah Connie says:

    Portland really gets into Halloween. There are so many Halloween events, not just for kids but for dogs too. It’s great, so much fun for everyone.

  3. KayT says:

    Great idea. I will be gathering rocks as soon as the snow melts. FUN.

  4. beth says:

    Looks like great fun – my grandson has such an active imagination he would have a wonderful time!

  5. I’ve seen these painted and even made a set of felted/embroidered “conversation” stones for a friend (, but I never would have thought to use fabric scraps on them. Thank you for the concept!

  6. Fenna says:

    As a homeschooler with one son who absolutely loves making up stories, this’d be a great book!!!

  7. Prachi in WA says:

    The book is so cute – it will be fun to do some of these projects with my nephews!

  8. Prachi in WA says:

    This is so cute – it will be fun to do some of these projects with my nephews!

  9. Kelly P says:

    These are pretty sweet! I’m sure my kids would love using something like this — and I’m sure my scrap bin could provide plenty of material to make them! Thanks!

  10. Ginger Bee says:

    These are adorable and have so many uses! Can’t wait to see the whole book!

  11. MarciaW. FL says:

    My grandnieces love rocks so I’m marking this one.

  12. Kim s says:

    really cool concept.

  13. OOh I just bought a thing of ModPodge and haven’t used any yet! My son would love these!

  14. sangeetha says:

    Neat – this would help with those I’m bored days

  15. Pattij says:

    My grandkids would love this when they come to visit!

  16. Alice C. says:

    What a treasure trove of wonderful ideas! Already, I wanna do those rocks with my granddaughter!

  17. Rebecca says:

    Oh my! What a fantastic idea… I’d love a copy of this book!

  18. Cindy says:

    What a great idea. So many possiblities.

  19. Cheryl Korman says:

    Great ideas. The kids would have a ton of fun

  20. Mara says:

    What a wonderful idea, I have pinned it for future reference and the book sounds wonderful.

  21. Anya says:

    I love these! My kids will have a blast making them!

  22. Stephanie says:

    I have a three year old who would enjoy this. Thank you.

  23. KeriAnn in PA says:

    I don’t have children yet, but I am a classroom teacher and this might be neat to use with my third graders! Or, I could give it as a gift to one of my other teacher friends!

  24. jessicac says:

    This would be a fun book to share with my goddaughter!

  25. Jamie says:

    These are great! Sometimes I wonder why we buy so many toys. My kids could play for hours with these. Thanks for the idea!

  26. Southern Gal says:

    This would be fantastic for my son and my granddaughter! Thanks for the chance.

  27. Pat Kelley says:

    I would love to win this book. My grandsons love to tell stories and always want to hear me and grandpa tell stories. I’ll have to get this one. Today is my birthday so it would make a great present for me.

  28. Mhairi says:

    I love this book SOOOOOO much. I would love to get a copy for my son’s kindergarten teacher as a thank you for the amazing effort she has put into teaching my son and helping him to discover a real love of learning.

  29. Jeanne Jones says:

    I teach kindergarten and this would be a great resource for my class. The story rocks look like fun, and an inexpensive project.

  30. Jeanne Jones says:

    I teach kindergarten and this would be a great resource for my class. The painted rocks look like fun, and an inexpensive project.

  31. Crystal C says:

    I would love to use this book with my children!

  32. Heather says:

    I love this idea, ideas that the kids and I can do together are so great!

  33. Kathy h says:

    Cute idea and I am looking for new things to do with the kids when they visit.

  34. Grandma G says:

    All my granddaughter wants to do when she comes here is crafts. This book would be wonderful in providing projects for her!

  35. chibidani says:

    Now I need to go find some stones!

  36. Carol Myers says:

    One of my granddaughters favorite playthings are the ladybug painted stones that her GREAT grandmother painted! She has the most delightful fun with them. She is only 22 months old and already realizes the potential in every stone and rock in our driveway! The old adage, ‘leave no stone unturned’ certainly applies to her! lol! We would surely love to peruse this book together this winter! 🙂

  37. Lia says:

    This would be so perfect for my little brother! 🙂

  38. Sarah B says:

    Such fun ideas! I would love to have this book :o)

  39. Lise says:

    I could certainly use these ideas with my children.

  40. Jody says:

    How clever! I think this would be a fun activity at my daughter’s book club.

  41. Rachael Martin says:

    So very cute! My kids love imaginative play and crafts — this would be so much fun 🙂

  42. Melanie in AZ says:

    What a great tool for storytelling!

  43. Nancy says:

    What a super idea. As a children’s librarian and storyteller, I can tell this would be a wonderful asset both for professionals and for families.

  44. Brigette says:

    So cute!

  45. Carole M says:

    I can just imagine how much fun my children would have with something like this!

  46. Natalia says:

    I’d love to have a book like this. I’d like to make some of its projects with my children!

  47. Crystal H. says:

    What a fabulous idea for kids like my daughter who are very tactile. This is great! I can’t wait to make some and see what we can come up with together. Thanks for sharing!

  48. Jess Z says:

    I will need to get this to do when I have my nieces and nephews over! I enjoy doing crafts with them when they visit, and I need more ideas!

  49. Mary Ann says:

    I love this idea. We need to get some rocks!

  50. Melissa G says:

    My kids would love this book. We could have a blast making goodies.

  51. kaholly says:

    This is a wonderful activity when camping at the beach!! We already paint rocks, so the supplies are handy. Thanks!

  52. Sara says:

    Sweet! I love the little painted stones; my kids would have so much fun with that.

  53. Judith says:

    What a beautiful idea – what creative possibilities!

  54. Melissa says:

    What fun! If I have time, I’m going to make some for my kids’ stockings!

  55. This will be a great cabin activity to have on hand. (Or anywhere, really!)

  56. Kim says:

    This looks like so much fun. The rocks are so beautiful too. They would be lovely just sitting on a shelf, but I wouldn’t want to miss the fun of creating the stories as well.

  57. jen says:

    that is so fun! would have loved doing that as a kid!

  58. carole says:

    What a wonderful book! My children are outdoorsy, crafty Waldorf kids and this would be perfect for them.

  59. Leah says:

    I got this book for my mom as a Christmas present and have a stash of stones I’m planning on decoupaging this weekend. I love the winter ideas–that will give me some extra inspiration!

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