Adrienne’s OLLI (Online Learning Lesson Idea) #4 – Everybody Needs a Rock

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful weekend and were able to celebrate all the great moms out there!   I know some districts and provinces are in the process of gradually returning to modified versions of “in person teaching” but many are still trying to determine what that looks like.  No matter what your teaching situation is at the moment, I am sending you positive thoughts and energy!

Many of you have been using my OLLI – “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  (You can see my first OLLI HERE and second HERE.  Last week, I shared a “How To” lesson connected to Mother’s Day.  You can see that lesson HERE.

This week, I’m excited to share “Everybody Needs A Rock” by Byrd Baylor,  one of my favorite books, (yes, I say that a lot!) with your students.  This book and lesson invites students on a wonderful “outdoor” activity, as well as an act of community kindness!


I love rocks.  I love their feel, their color pallet, their smell, their spirit.   Rocks are magical – each has its own history; its own journey; its own story.    Like snowflakes, no two rocks are the same.  But unlike snowflakes, rocks can be held, saved, and collected.  I collect them wherever I am at a beach.  I have pebbles from Spanish Banks, Haida Gwaii, Horby Island,  Mayne Island, the Sunshine Coast, Quadra Island, Saltspring Island, Hernando Island, and many other West Coast beaches.

Some people have certain rocks that they are always on the lookout for.  My mum loved striped pebbles.  She called them “Licorice All-Stones”.

Striped beach rocks | Etsy

Others are on the lookout for speckled pebbles.  Size and shape matter less to collectors than those splattered speckles.

Pacific Ocean Speckled Stones Round Conglomerate Spotted | Etsy

My childhood friend’s mother collected “wish rocks” – grey rocks with a single white line circling the center.  She said they were good luck.  The thicker the white stripe, the better chances of your wish coming true.

Wish rocks | Etsy

Another friend of mine loves searching for heart-shaped rocks.  These are harder to find, but when you find one, it is like discovering a hidden treasure.

Common Beach Stone Identification (Including Dolomite, Quartz ...

Me – I am a collector of smooth, shiny, flat stones that fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.  There is something comforting about these rocks to me.  Something sacred.

Highly Polished Slate-Black Fire Stones | Stone Decorative

Because of my love of rocks, this week’s anchor book Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor is special to me. (Can you say connections?) It was first published in 1974, and while the black and white drawings may not grab you initially, I guarantee the engaging, fresh voice of the narrator certainly will.   The story outlines ten simple, but important rules to finding the perfect rock and inspires the reader to follow the rules and go out to find their own special rock.

Everybody Needs A Rock Rules:

      1.  Find your rock anywhere.

      2. Shhhhhh… choose a rock quietly.

      3. Look at your rock eye to eye.

      4. Don’t choose a rock that’s too big.

      5. Don’t choose a rock that’s too small.

      6. Choose a rock that fits into your hand.

      7. Look for the perfect color.

      8. Choose a rock that has an interesting shape.

      9. Sniff your rock. (they all smell different!)

      10. Don’t ask for help.  You can do this all by yourself.

The other thing I like about this book is that, while it can certainly be read literally about the joys of hunting for rocks, following ten tips, and finding one that you want to save, there is also the underlying idea that everyone needs something solid to hold onto during challenging times. A rather timely book, wouldn’t you say?    It is also a gentle reminder to time to notice and connect to nature and to the things that really matter.

Watch the Youtube Read Aloud here:

After the students watch and listen to the story, invite your students to use these rules to go rock hunting this week.  They can do this in their yard, at a local park, or perhaps on an outing with their parents.  Encourage them to follow the 10 rules to find their special rock (they can download the rules so they don’t forget!)

After they find their perfect rock, they can draw and color a detailed picture and write about their rock finding experience – where they found it, why they picked it, etc.

Here is the Ten Rules Template (students can use this when searching for their rocks and also add their own rule!)

Here is the Primary Template

Here is the Intermediate Template

Lesson Extension – The “Giving Back” Rock

(Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful idea!!)

During our morning runs since the city shut down in March, my friend Cheryl and I have noticed painted rocks with lovely messages placed under trees along the trails.  Each time we run, in fact, we notice more and more of these cheerful, encouraging rocks.

Today: Rotary Trail RocksMessages on rocks help one neighborhood cope with coronavirus ...Steven Bright's tweet - "⁦@ronald_cohn⁩ ... someone in Oakville is ...

To extend this lesson, why not encourage students to find a second special rock to paint and leave somewhere in their neighborhood to brighten up someone’s day.  This “Giving Back” rock can be something the students paint at home, perhaps with their family.  They could drop off the rock on a neighbour’s porch or yard, or find a spot in a local park to leave it.  Younger students will likely need some help with the painting and planting of this special rock but I could see this being an activity the entire family could get involved in.  Invite your students to take photos of their sharing rock where they leave it in the neighbourhood.

Here is the “Giving Back Rock” template for Primary

Here is the “Giving Back Rock” template for Intermediate

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week, everyone!  You are doing a great job!

Happy Rock Hunting!

Check out more writing lessons in my new book, Powerful Writing Structures 

See you soon for more OLLI posts!





This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Lisa Millar

    This is awesome! I too have a love of rocks and was just collecting some resources and links to share during Distance Learning. Would love to share this in a choice board activity I am trying to create. Please let me know if it’s ok to share?
    Here is a link to my first go at one on keeping a Primary Source Journal as we are living through history.
    Thanks Lisa
    P.S. We meet the first year you attended The Reading for For the Love it. I talked my way past the security to a packed room! At your next session, I was early, front row, and got to be your handout helper!🤩

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Hi Lisa! Thanks for your message. I love that you are a RFTLOI fan! Thanks for talking your way into my session! Your storyboard is awesome! You are welcome to share the rock link to your choice board. Would love to see student samples if you would be willing! you can email them at I love your story board for the journal – was not able to access the link but it sure looks amazing! Take care.

  2. Hello Adrienne,

    Thank you so much for this blogpost and for all of the online learning OLLI posts. You have a beautiful ability to bring literature and learning to life. Your ideas and work are greatly appreciated. I totally agree that “Everybody Needs A Rock” by Byrd Baylor is one of the best picture books…one of my favourites anyways! It’s one of those titles that has endless learning opportunities and cross curricular connections. I love the fact that this book instantly connects emotions and nature. One of my favourite aspects of this blog are the activity resources for both primary and intermediate levels. For example, the links for the writing activity or the ten collection rules. I love, love, love the “giving back” rock idea. When thinking about the pandemic, I think one of the positive learning opportunities we are faced with is coming to realize the importance and power of community. I will definitely share the read aloud and activity ideas with my students. Thank you for taking the time to craft such a thoughtful blog post.

    All the best,
    Kirsten Johnson

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Kirsten – Your comments made my day! Thank you so much for taking the time to write and for all the positive, kind words. I am so glad to know that you are finding the OLLI lessons helpful for your distance teaching. Totally agree that the power of community is stronger than ever! Thanks, again for your message. Have a great week ahead!

  3. Kirstin Beston

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and engaging lessons! These lessons gave me hope during the pandemic to keep going! I truly believe that there is an anchor book to connect to any lesson, or to inspire a lesson. Online teaching pushed me to find books to go with all of my lessons and my students really needed the books to make deeper connections to the curriculum. I really appreciate the links to the read alouds. I didn’t have access to the library when we were teaching from home so that was a huge help!

  4. Adrienne Gear

    Thanks for taking the time to write me a message! I’m so happy to know that you are finding the OLLI lessons helpful. I know it’s been a challenging year for everyone, so if I am able to help just a little to ease the load – I’m happy to do that! Check out my new OLLI on Heartprints! Have a great day!

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