The girls have been collecting stones ever since they started taking their tiny steps outside the house. Whenever we go out, almost always, the girls come back home with a stone each in their hands, if not more.
The girls pick up stones from the footpath, from the road, from construction sites, from demolition sites, anywhere and everywhere. If we step out of the house twice in a day, then we have double the collection.
After coming back, they put their stones anywhere in the house and after an extended duration ask for their treasures. They tend to remember why they went out, how many stones they brought and from where they brought. But, interestingly they forget where they have put it once inside the house. If we are unable to trace out their belongings, we have to endure quite a bit of their pangs of separation. We are now sufficiently trained by them to ensure that their collection is safely put from where it can be easily retrieved.
We have boxes and tubs filled with stones at our house. At times, I fear that municipal officers might levy penalties on us for our girls’ stone-lifting.
Once, their mother took them to a village during Dirty Feet field trip and they went on a stone-collecting spree. The villagers remarked that if they continue stone-collecting at such a pace, they might as well be able to construct their own houses by the time they turn adults with their collection of stones.
When the girls are collecting the stones on the road, a number of times passers-by have tried stopping them. They get surprised when we tell them that it is just fine.
Now, as they are growing up, they are also getting into collecting leaves, twigs and seed-pods.
The stones also, of course, help us in a number of their activities. They learn to sort them as per their size and shapes and colour and learn to barter between them, as well. The girls colour the stones. These stones also double up in making pens for their toy animals. The girls have learnt their number counting basis their stone collection. As kids, stones had a major part in fine-tuning their gross motor and fine motor skills.
After seeing my daughters collecting stones for more than 2 years, I can safely vouch that until now, they have not fallen ill due to this habit. It does seem to be safe collecting and playing with stones and just washing hands with plain water after that.
I suppose they are not just learning to collect the stones, they are learning to own up. They are learning to plan, execute and think through on what they are going to play/do with what they have collected and actually put it in action.
A lot many things that our daughters gather while collecting the stones. Memories for us and their own fun and learning and whatever.