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Rock Garden Caterpillar | an easy rock painting idea for the garden

Rock Garden Caterpillar

Activities that involve using nature's finds for creating are brilliant for keeping kids busy, and is also great for their creativity. Not only do spend time crafting but they also spend time outdoors finding items. Bonus! You get them outdoors for a bit which, in some electronic filled homes, is hard to do AND you get them crafting. This project is great for remembering your childhood and giving your children a piece of it, too.

The garden caterpillar is a fun, and easy project to make with kids. All you need are rocks, glue, and paint.

This fun rock craft is a great way to get your kids excited about the garden! Creating their own garden rock caterpillar to “guard” the garden is a fun activity for the whole family. It’s also inexpensive and easy! And children can help gather up the needed supplies! And, they love painting rocks for garden decorations,

materials needed for garden rock caterpillar


To Do:

1. Paint your rocks.

It's recommended that you paint them multiple colors, for fun. But you can certainly paint them all one color if you like. Have fun! Be prepared to take some time on this part. You need to paint one side, let it dry, and then paint the other. Sometimes for multiple coats. It is not difficult, at all, and a great time to watch a favorite movie and have some snacks. Be prepared, this is going to get messy. Messy is fun.


(Be prepared with wipes, table covers, and aprons. But don't be afraid of this project because of a paint mess. Art is messy. Everyone needs to be a bit messy sometimes!)


Pull out your hair dryer to make the drying time go faster. If making the garden rock caterpillar with children, they love to use the dryer on their own!

face on the garden rock caterpillar

2. Draw the face on your caterpillar's "head".

One of the easiest ways to do this is with q-tips and the paint you are currently using. Or, you could pull out some permanent markers (Not recommended with children). Be sure to wait until the paint on the rock has properly dried before adding your face.

assemble your garden rock caterpillar.

3. Assemble the caterpillar after the paint has properly dried!

Put the head in place and then balance the remaining rocks onto one another. Often you will want to prop up the rocks with a paint container, another rock, or whatever works.


This is another great time to pull out the hairdryer. Prop up as much of the caterpillar as you can and then give it a shot with the dryer. It will help it be more secure and dry faster.

use small twigs for the antennae

4. Attach the “antennae” (sticks) with your waterproof glue.

You need to attach your “antennae” to the first rock on the body. Use rocks, bottles, books, whatever you can find to prop them up while they dry. Let dry for several hours.

5. Let your whole caterpillar dry and cure overnight.

Note, if this is a project you are making and sending home with children consider putting it together on a sturdy piece of cardboard or wood so that it can be easily transported. You still want to have several hours before you try to transport it but it will be more secure if moved as one piece.

garden rock caterpillar
how to make a garden rock caterpillar. nelliebellie.com

Tips for creating this garden caterpillar with kids:

  1. Use good paint.
    Good craft paint (we love Martha Stewart's line) will dry faster, have truer colors, be easier to wash off, and make the whole experience a better one for kids. Also, many of the good paints have coordinating colors. Yay! Not thinking and matching.
  2. Don't fret about how many coats the caterpillar has. Or feet, for that matter.
    One coat of paint on one side may be all some kids will want to attempt. That's okay, the idea is still there. If you are really wanting proper painting on all sides and all coats think about a fun activity, snack, or game that can happen while the coats are drying. And the caterpillar looks just as cute without the extra little rock "feet". Did you notice our updated caterpillar doesn't have them? Still cute, right!
  3. Prepare for messiness.
    No amount of "don't get this on your clothes" is going to keep paint off of kids clothes. Wrap kids in old shirts, dish towels, aprons, or whatever you can find. Have paper towels or wipes on hand. And, if possible, go outside! And always... always... line a table with MORE than you think. We recommend cheap plastic tablecloths because they are inexpensive, disposable, and waterproof.
  4. Use disposable sponge brushes.
    Sponge brushes are so inexpensive that they can simply be tossed. It makes it so much more manageable for a different color paint to have it's own brush... or two.
  5. Remember it's about the experience!
    Kids will not grow up to love art and creating with their hands if you are a perfectionist, clean freak, or micro-manager. Choose a proper project for the child, be well-prepared, give direction, and then sit back and let them be. The joy they have in creating something is the best part. Having a good experience means they will be willing to repeat it. Maybe for a bit longer and a bit more complicated next time.

20 thoughts on “Rock Garden Caterpillar”

  1. did this project with my brother's kids was fun and stopped them from bouncing off the walls for about an hour or so.... mounted it on cardboard that they painted green so they will be able to transport it home hopefully without it falling apart... very cute

  2. This is so cute. I am working on it with my 3 and 5 yr old grandchildren when they come over on Sundays. Our caterpillar is going to be very long!

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