Make your own ancient rockpool

Inspired by fossils

Make your own ancient rockpool

what might you find…

A Derwent Stories activity

What might you have found if you had strolled along the beach of an ancient sea a few hudnred million years ago….

beachcombing might have revealed all sorts of finds…

We have used this easy technique many times. We designed it for public events where we would have to make a lot of rockpools with visitors in a short space of time but it is very versatile and you could adapt to suit your situation. While this was set up as a prehistoric event you could of course make a modern rockpool, or perhaps a pond!

We used this activity on our Derwent Stories event at the National Stone Centre

This activity guide uses the materials we used with notes about why we chose this or that

You will need

  • a dish – we used waxed card pie dishes (buy in packs from discount stores and supermarkets). Most of our dishes were white but the occasional black ones that we found worked well, too!
  • acrylic paint – to paint on the waxed card – we use large bottles but you could get some small tubes, or try mixing some poster or redimix paint with PVA glue and see if that works
  • paint brushes or sponges
  • Plastic plate to squirt the paint onto (easy to clean)
  • small pieces of this card
  • coloured pens or pencils
  • sharp scissors
  • a small stapler (the smaller the better)
  • PVA glue
  • scraps of stuff: sponge, wool, carrier bag, felt, glitter, sand…..

materials and a sheet of paper to work on


Thinking about fossils

Our aim was to make a rockpool that you might have found if you could have gone walking along a Carboniferous seashore 300 million years ago. You might want to find pictures of some of the animals of the time to help you. Or maybe you have some fossils to look at? Or some plastic ancient sea creatures? Could you visit your local museum and do some drawings…Perhaps if you printed out this page and waved it at them, they would set up an event for all you ancient rockpoolers?

starting to paint

Prepare the pool

Cover your work surface with a sheet of paper – acrylic paint can be hard to clean off. Cover yourself as well if you are a messy worker. You might want an old shirt rather than another sheet of paper

Select your rockpool colours: blue, green turquoise and raw ochre are often good. Smear them round the inside of your pool (paintbrush or painting sponge). You do not need to be too precise here. It is  background and more a sense of sand, rock and water that is needed rather than detailed painting

Set to one side to dry

a pool set aside to dry


Prepare the wildlife

Ok. Now it’s up to you……

our rockpool animals

In this pool we have:

  • drawings of a trilobite and an ammonite (should we have coloured these in?)
  • drawing of a horseshoe crab that has been cut, folded and stapled to give it a more 3-D effect
  • drawing of a coral
  • fragments of one of my painting sponges have given us some rock
  • green wool and a shredded green carrier bag have give us some seaweed
  • Fingertip coral: made by wrapping plastercloth round a finger…

Fitting the wildlife

You could glue everything straight onto the dish, or make little brackets to lift things up off the floor and wall a little


Brackets might be small bits of foam or thin strips of card either folded or zig-zagged into a spring

brackets and supports

Carefully glue them in place.  A matchstick can be helpful in applying glue


Let it all dry, sit back and admire. Then go and tell someone about the day you found a trilobite…..or take and print a photo and send it as a postcard to someone else?

a finished rockpool



Or send us that photo and we’ll have a gallery of rockpools!






a pool made in an (old) mixing bowl



Derwent Stories

Derwent Stories

seasons, stories and art outdoors


what will you find?

Over the summer and autumn of 2018, Stone and Water are running a series of creative outdoor events structured to support families with children with additional needs. With funding from Derwentwise and Foundation Derbyshire, and advice and support from Umbrella, events are happening along the Lower Derwent Valley.


Activities are planned to encourage people to come out and enjoy the local environment in simple, cheerful ways that families could repeat for themselves. So we look at the places where families might go, wildlife they might meet and activities they could do. Activities are planned to use everyday resources and to be simple to plan and deliver – the sorts of things you could rummage out of a cupboard, stuff into a bag and have fun with


In planning for additional needs, we are trying to find readily accessible sites – wheel- and push- chair friendly (not all of them will work but the majority ). Events are very relaxed in timetable: there is structure here, a shape for us to work around but that shape will respond to our visitors so if you need to just stop for a bit, we can, or if you need to go and shout a bit on your own we will plan for spaces where that can happen. And if you decide you are feeling grumpy and fed up, then none of us will judge you for it or hold it against you….

So, we are off adventuring and after each events we post blogs

  • Where have we been and
  • What did we do – so you could go to the same place or take the same activities somewhere else
  • Today, we are catching up with these posts – as they complete, we will post links here


fingers full of coelacanths


July: National Stone Centre with some fossil moments


August: Darley Park: a day of bumblebees, butterflies and picnics

The next events:

  • Wednesday 29th August at Carsington Water – a day of storytelling and storymaking using natural materials – session through the day
  • Sunday 16th September: Altitude Festival, Wirksworth: making puppets inspired by rocks and fossils
  • Saturday 22nd September: autumn art and stories in Lea Woods (meet at High Peak Junction car park)
  • Friday 2nd November: Mills, canals and creatures: a day of big drawings at Cromford Mills as part of the Discovery days programme


All these events are free (some places there might be a charge for car parking). Materials are provided and no bookings Is needed. Check on each day for timing of activities


Details of events will post here and on our facebook page: Stone and Water

ready for action…


  • Wednesday 29th August Summer Stories at Carsington Water – a day of storytelling and storymaking using natural materials – session through the day

Summer stories at Carsington

Summer stories

Tales of wild creatures and adventurous children!

hero, clay monster and useful twigs

Wednesday 29th August 2018

Carsington Water, Derbyshire


There are adventures everywhere and stories waiting to be told, tales waiting to be heard. In the wind whispering through the leaves, in the shadows under the bench, in the sudden splash of something in a pond.


Join artist and storyteller Gordon MacLellan for tales of brave hedgehogs and naughty rabbits, fierce mice and reckless beetles. We will tell a tale or two and then create our own, making brand new stories for ourselves out of leaves and weather and whatever we find


There will be short sessions through the day, so come along and join in, listen, laugh and create your own tales of excitement, adventure or maybe terror


a story collected on a plate

When: Wednesday 29th August

Where: Carsington Water, Ashbourne: DE6 1ST

Times: there will be sessions running 10am – 12noon, 1pm – 3pm: any one session of stories and making things up lasting about 45 minutes – but feel free to drop in and drop out as you will!

The activity is free but there is a fee for car parking

Materials provided

Meeting point: outdoor classroom area

Booking: none needed


Like all the Derwent Stories events,  Summer Stories is open to anyone but is planned for and structured around families including children with additional needs

The Derwent Stories project is put together with help from Umbrella, Derwentwise and Derby Parks. Stone and Water is happy to acknowledge grant aid from Foundation Derbyshire  and Derwentwise


Contact for more info:

Facebook: Stone and Water


a drum a rug and a kettle: a recipe for adventures

Butterflies, bumbles and picnics

Butterflies, bumbles

and picnics


Monday 6th August 2018

Darley Park, Derby



The Derwent Stories project has got off to an old stones and fossils start with a lively day at the National Stone Centre last week (pictures and report to follow soon!). The next event will be a day of picnics and wildlife wanderings in Derby….


Event: Butterflies, bumbles

and picnics


When: Monday 6th August 2018

Times:we’ll be around 11am – 4pm, so choose a time within that and come and join us. Activities will happen as people are ready for them (see below) – latest time for new arrivals is 3pm

Where: Darley Park, Derby

How to find us: we are aiming to base ourselves in the Butterfly Garden or on the lawns hear the Café so head for the Darley Abbey Park Tearooms. For parking, try the car park on Darley St, DE22 1DX

what will you find?

 Our plan is for a relaxed day looking at the flowers and insects of the Park. There will be a bumblebee and butterfly survey to try. You can listen to wildlife stories and add your own, and help us make up some completely new ones. There will be wildlife walks and chances to draw, sketch, scribble and print the animals and plants we find.

Bring a picnic to extend your visit and enjoy open spaces, old trees and room to run and roll

Like all the Derwent Stories events,  Butterflies, bumbles and picnics is open to anyone but is planned for and structured around families including children with additional needs

The Derwent Stories project is put together with help from Umbrella, Derwentwise and Derby Parks. Stone and Water is happy to acknowledge grant aid from Foundation Derbyshire  and Derwentwise

ready for action…