MUM SAYS We hide rocks for other kids to find!

Many Singapore families are painting and hiding rocks in local parks for fun. One mum tells us how it works.

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“I first came across the idea of rock-hunting in New Zealand earlier this year, when I went to visit a friend. The kids over there don’t generally have mobile phones, so, instead of hunting down electronic monsters, they look for painted rocks!

When I got back, another mum, Lynn Loke and I, started the Facebook page, SG Rocks. We are both mums who want to run this group for other parents, and it’s not for profit.

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The concept is simple ― we ask parents and kids to paint stones, hide them around green spaces in Singapore, so other kids can find them. You decorate rocks, hide them in parks for kids to find, then post a pic on the Facebook page after you've hidden or hunted!

It’s an initiative to get kids off electronics and out into nature, as well as to teach them the joy of giving, as they’re leaving little gifts for other children to find.

It’s an initiative to get the kids off electronics and out into nature, as well as to teach them the joy of giving, to leave little gifts for other children to find.”

You’ll need a few things to get started. First, you’ll need rocks. You can get pebbles from your local garden centres or just pick up natural rocks from the parks. You’ll need some paint ― get either waterproof acrylic paint, or acrylic paint pens like Posca pens. Don’t forget the paint brushes, too, if you’re using paint. Finally, get a sealant to protect your artwork, though this isn’t strictly necessary. All the supplies are available at Art Friend.

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My kids love rock painting! It’s less fun for me when they make a mess, but with enough newspaper, I just let them get on with it!

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They've really taken to it which makes me happy, since it teaches them to be patient (you have to be to wait for the paints to dry), and to just express themselves however they want. A lot of the parents in the group enjoy letting their kids paint the rocks, as much as they themselves love painting their own masterpieces!

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On Saturday morning, we’ll slap on sunscreen and put hats on the kids, then hide some of our own painted rocks and go find others.

We started by hunting in several of the bigger gardens, but because we didn’t get permission, we have stopped that. Now we organise ‘Rock-Hunting Extravaganzas’ at Robertson Quay and some suburban parks like Bishan Park.

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We usually hunt the rocks at the extravaganzas, as I know that other members will be hunting and hiding too, so, we wouldn't be wandering around in the heat without finding anything.

Afterwards we’ll re-hydrate and the kids will claim their own stones. Sometimes, they find more than they should keep, so we'll re-hide some of the loot for others to find. I usually let them keep three or four of their favourites.

When we reached 2,000 members, Lynn drew a beautiful squirrel we call 'Stan' on a large round stone she found while on holiday. Stan makes the rounds of being hidden and found around Singapore and our members chart his progress.

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It's been a fun game for parents and children alike to be the first ones to find Stan. He is the most beautifully painted squirrel I've ever seen.

Unfortunately, we have had some challenges over public parks that have not been supportive of our activity because they don't understand how it works. Some parks are worried that the children will dig up flower beds, like they might in a treasure hunt, or trample on plants. Our first ‘mascot’, Tessie the Turtle, was even kidnapped by park rangers for a while before we finally rescued her!

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It is our hope that once the activity is better understood, the park managers will come to know the benefits of rock hunting and how it engages kids in the outdoors. Hopefully, they will welcome our members to hide their rocks there.

This activity has sent me and my kids to new parks and places I've never discovered before in Singapore. It has also been such a wonderful bonding activity we can do as a family, including Dad and Aunty. It's also made me realise that we really don't need electronics to keep the kids entertained. Plain old rocks and paints will do.

We have more than 3,000 members since Lynn and I started the group back in May this year. So many parents have shared their thanks with us and they’ve told us how rock hunting has bought their family closer together. They talk about how they enjoy going outdoors again, simply because they love seeing their kids' enthusiasm hunting for the rocks.

We really hope the group can continue to grow and more parents will share the fun!”

Susanna Lo, 36, a co-founder of the Facebook group SG Rocks, is a mother of two kids, both under age 6.

Photos: Susanna Lo

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