Fun for Free: Story Stones at Ayala Museum

A is for Art, Awesome, and Ang Ink

We had come for the mall koi pond, but we found this instead. What a serendipitous find! This kid-friendly art installation outside the Ayala Museum was the highlight of our Sunday afternoon. I'd heard about story stones and have been coveting a set by Etsy seller Thrive 360 Living. So when I saw this exhibit-sized version, I was thrilled! What a fun way to introduce my preschooler to the concept!

A project by Ang Illustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK, an organization of illustrators for children) in collaboration with Ayala Museum, these story stones were painted by Ang Ink illustrators, such as Robert Alejandro, Jamie Bauza, Liza Flores, Abi Goy, and Yas Doctor. Can you find which stones were painted by your favorite illustrators?

I wish there were more spaces like this for Manila kids, places where they are invited to interact with the space in a way that encourages creativity, learning, and exploration. Aside from the amusement centers (a lot are too noisy, busy, and overstimulating), most places are off-limits for curious hands and minds. We're used to having "manong guards" hovering, waiting to reprimand us for touching displays. This is torture for my kid. She has to touch. Actually, the signs weren't clear at the exhibit, so we got a few looks as we were playing; I'm sorry if we weren't supposed to, but yes, we touched the stones (nothing was rearranged though, promise!). Ella wanted to see what something would look like if it was upside-down, as an experiment, so we turned a few around—for the sake of science!

Ang Ink Story Stone Exhibit
Nature's an artist, too! She added an interesting leaf to the display.

A lot of people, perhaps unused to this sort of magical Yes Space, preferred to sit their kids on the benches and take their pictures. That's cool, too; you know I love a good photo op. But, let me suggest a few other ways to play.

Five Ways to Enjoy the Ang Ink Story Stones Exhibit

1) Find your favorites.
I looked for foxes and woodland creatures. E was drawn to funny faces. We agreed that we both loved the mermaid.

Ang Ink Story Stone Exhibit
cute little stone face
Ang Ink Story Stone Exhibit

2) Ask her what she thinks something is.
Are those ribbons? Or worms? Are those tadpoles or eyes? Or something completely out of this world? There is power in the four simple words: "What do you think?"

Ang Ink Story Stone Exhibit

3) Play "I Spy."
I spy a mouse with a hat! Is it his birthday? Can you spy other guests he can invite? (The dragon, sadly, was not invited.) I spied Van Gogh (is it?), who became the polka-dot beard man for her benefit.

Ang Ink Story Stone Exhibit

4) Draw your own story characters.
If you have paper handy (I didn't and I'm learning that I always need to have something on hand in my already bulging bag), perhaps your little artist feels inspired to create her own masterpiece. After the exhibit, she asked if we could paint the stones in our garden, too. "I want to paint a penguin, with red dots and big eyes, and the yellow thing [the beak]."

Ang Ink Story Stone Exhibit

5) Make up a story.
Of course! They are story stones after all. One of ours began like this...

"Once upon a time, there was a sneaky fox who wanted to eat the pizza-faced man with eyes. But, although he was sneaky, he didn't know how. Then he thought, I know, I'll invite him over to a party. He'll have to come, and when he sits down to rest, I'll capture him and eat him. But who else can I invite? He won't come if it's just him. I know, I'll ask the sleeping lady and the giant bird..."

Ang Ink Story Stone Exhibit

You don't need to have a child or be a child to enjoy this interactive art experience. Do check it out if you're in Manila! It'll be on display until January 18.

"Story Stones"
Ayala Museum Open Space
Museum Plaza
De la Rosa cor. Makati Ave.
Makati City