How Stonework Began

Humans have used stones to educate the next generation since before recorded history. Bas-relief and three-dimensional sculptures are examples of early stonework play for children. In Nepal, where the lead author of this research has consulted and taught, children have few playthings that are not created at home. Their education tends to take place in groups through repetitive speaking by their teachers and parents.

Several years ago, Diana Suskind was invited to the HEMS School in Kathmandu, Nepal, to introduce the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of free play to young children. “At the school, I saw no toys, no games, nothing to stimulate creative play. My goal was to make learning come alive. 
One day, I gathered the children around me.

“‘Remember the stones you gathered at the river, around your house, and on the way to school? Remember how we saved all those stones in barrels? Were you wondering what we were going to do with them?’

“The children looked at one another, curiosity aroused. I told them to select as many stones as they could carry of the ones they liked best. This in itself was a freeing experience — choosing stones of different sizes, colors, and textures. Then, I asked the children to arrange their stones however they wanted. This might have been the first time in school that each child had worked individually, rather than as a group. The results amazed their teachers — and me as well. Children created stone people, stone animals, or just simple shapes. One child made a helicopter, another her temple and family. They were busy, but contemplative, quiet, totally immersed in their creations.

“Once they had completed their stonework, I asked them to give a title to the stone drawing they had made. This was the impetus for Stonework Play.” (Suskind, 2012).