Aha! Crafts

garden rock caterpillar.

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This fun project was originally posted in July of 2012 but we have updated the information, images, and content to give you better in-process photos and directions. We have been surprised by the popularity of this garden rock caterpillar but are so pleased so many of you are making this with your children and grandchildren. It is so delightful to know that you are heading out to find rocks, twigs, and paint to create an old-fashioned type project that reminds us of days gone by. We hope that this project remains popular and the new updates will help bring it to a new audience of simple craft lovers. Happy crafting!




The garden rock caterpillar is a fun, and easy project to make with kids.

This fun project 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!

materials needed for garden rock caterpillar

Supplies for garden rock caterpillar:

  • Outdoor paint in the desired colors ( I recommend Martha Stewart paints. They are my fave.)
  • 6 rocks. (you can use as large or as small a size as you wish. It is fun to let kids go hunt for their own. Or, for ease, purchase them at a craft store)
  • 2 small sticks (antennae)
  • Waterproof landscaping glue or E6000

painting rocks for the garden rock caterpillar garden-rock-caterpillar-step1

1. Paint your rocks.

I recommend painting 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.

garden-rock-caterpillar-messy(and I’m a grown-up. Be prepared with wipes, table covers, and aprons. But don’t be afraid of this project because of a paint mess. Art is messy. We all need 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 (I don’t recommend this with children). Be sure to wait until the paint on the rock has properly dried before adding your face.

assemble your garden rock caterpillar. garden-rock-caterpillar-step2a

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 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.
    We have covered our rocks with the proper coats of paint because, well, magazines and websites feature it. We know it needs to look good. But 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.
    Over the years of kids programs I had a few art teachers that wanted kids to learn how to use proper brushes. They would get a bit icky when I bought sponge brushes in bulk. No apologies to those lovely ladies (they did mean well!). 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.



Nellie is the founder of NellieBellie, and takes basically every photograph you've ever seen on this site. She also runs our web design business, the Savvy Sites Administration.


  1. Mary

    February 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    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!

    • the Bellie

      February 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Oh, that’s so fun!!! What a great way to spend Sunday afternoons!

  2. Cristina

    February 11, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Very creative and exciting idea.

    • the Bellie

      February 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Isn’t it cute? So simple, but a ton of fun!

  3. Kristy

    October 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I love this. When I get my flowerbeds done I will definitely be painting some caterpillar rocks to give it another splash of color. So cute.

    • Nellie

      October 6, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks! It’s such a fun one to do with kids. We love it!

  4. Lindsay

    June 27, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Thanks for such an adorable idea! I included your caterpillar in my kids’ art summer bucket list!

  5. Karla

    May 27, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    These are really cute. We are wanting to paint ladybugs with our craft group at the nursing home. So what exactly is “outdoor” paint? Besides house paint?

    • the Bellie

      May 28, 2014 at 9:10 am

      It’s just craft paint that is made for outside. If you go to a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby or something, the staff should be able to help you find it.

  6. Cathy Reeves

    May 11, 2014 at 6:55 am

    So adorable!

  7. wanda

    September 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I love this going to do it with my grandson

  8. Lauren

    July 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Dear Janel,

    I hope all is well! My name is Lauren and I am a contributing writer for Care.com, a site that helps connect families and caregivers. As part of our service we also offer tons of free articles and resources for a kid-friendly audience.

    I wanted to let you know that we have featured your Garden Rock Caterpillar (http://www.nelliebellie.com/garden-rock-caterpillar/) in our latest article on Summer Crafts for Kids! We absolutely love your work and have linked back to your site from our piece.
    You can see it here: http://www.care.com/child-care-62-summer-crafts-for-kids-p1017-q30457360.html

    We will be promoting the article through our social channels and we would love for you to share it with your blog and/or social followers as well!

    Thanks so much!


    • miznelliebellie

      July 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      thank you so very much! I appreciate it! I will be sure to head over and check it out!

  9. Jen @ Four Marrs & One Venus

    July 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Ok, I love him. Does he have a Name? You always name your goodies…let’s name him Spike. I like that! Really Really Cute Janel!!

  10. Gwen

    July 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    or a Vampire-Were-Wolf-Marshmallow Caterpillar…

    Sorry, I’m on Sinus meds and I don’t know what I’m doing…

  11. keri @ shaken together

    July 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Soooooo cute!! Now I need a garden for my caterpillar to guard … maybe I can just make a front porch caterpillar? :)

  12. Jessica @ Mom 4 Real

    July 5, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Oh my goodness! I love it! Is this one of “those” projects ;) ? It is awesome and kids could make these…how fun!


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