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Rock painting

Riverside ELC students learn about friendship in outdoor art project

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Kira Johnson, left, and Payton Johnson, both preschoolers at Riverside ELC, cover their rocks during friendship rock painting on Tuesday morning.

Classrooms of preschool students learned the lesson of friendship and uniqueness at Riverside Early Learning Center this week.

On Tuesday morning, outdoor classroom teacher Ann Moenck led students to a picnic table covered with bottles of paint, where she let each student pick out a rock to decorate with whatever colors they like.

Moenck started this tradition of starting off the school year with painting friendship rocks three years ago. The concept of “kindness rocks,” which are hand-painted rocks that people decorate and then leave in various places in their environment for others to find and collect.

“I wanted to do something to incorporate that with the preschoolers,” Moenck said. She then decided to start this lesson by reading the book “Only One You,” by Linda Kranz.

“It ties in because it talks about friendship and everyone is different, just like every rock is different and you paint the rock differently,” Moenck said. “We’re all different and we can all be friends.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Latrayah Dungy, a preschooler at Riverside ELC, paints a “friendship rock” during an outdoor classroom lesson on Tuesday morning.

Moenck uses the activity as a way to kick off the new school year for the young students.

“I hope that they just continue to get to know each other because it’s the beginning of the year and I know that they’re just beginning to get to know each other,” she said. “I want them to get to know each other and develop those lasting friendships.

Once the rocks dry, Moenck will cover them with a protective coating and then place them with the other friendship rocks around the base of the school’s flagpole.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Ann Moenck, an outdoor classroom teacher at Riverside ELC, reads the book “Only One You” to a group of preschool students on Tuesday morning.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Samuel Hruska, a preschooler at Riverside ELC, paints a “friendship rock” with his classmates on Tuesday morning.