Kids LOVE collecting rocks! Even cement becomes a wondrous treasure! You can encourage a love of Earth Science by starting a rock collection with your child because rocks are fascinating…and even better, they are all around us! Start out by putting together a place to store the rocks. My dad gave my daughter this adjustable hardware box, which has worked well. It’s a good way to start with young kids for easy rock storage and basic classification. It’s such a treasure box that she keeps it on the shelf under her nightstand.
Collecting rocks helps kids take notice of the nature around them. Not only will they begin to notice rocks on hikes, but rocks also enter into conversation on neighborhood walks, bike rides, dog walks, and yes – you may even get stopped in a gravel parking lot to admire some really “beautiful” rocks!
Let’s Go Rock Collecting is the perfect way to introduce rocks to your kids. The book takes them on a journey around the world and examines the differences between rock types in a fun and educational manner.
Everybody Needs a Rock is another favorite of mine on how to choose the perfect rock by following an outline of rules. I’ve had my girls try to find their own “just right” rock, but it’s so hard to narrow it down to just one!
Once your children have a few rocks, they can start sorting them at home by size and color. You may even separate out rock types, location they were found or an additional form of classification. The important part is that your kids are grouping, and important skill for learning. If you want to label rocks, try using a swipe of white-out on the rock, with a thinly Sharpied name, date, or location.
Here are a few of the rocks my 5 year old picked out as her favorites, because she couldn’t narrow it down to a few. Note: Grandpa [an environmental engineer] supplements her collection here and there, so she DID NOT find them all…and around St. Patrick’s Day I was told that gold rock in the middle of the third picture came from a leprechaun…I really have no idea where it was discovered! Yes, that last picture IS gravel, but she’s so excited about it, why squelch the enthusiasm?!
And, beautiful cement…If you see it through my child’s eyes, you will see that it does have a really unique shape!
Of course, at this time, you can also throw around the names of the rocks, the names of the three main classifications of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and you can also point out additional rock properties (luster texture, etc.). You can even touch on what the difference between rocks and minerals. Using the scientific vocabulary will give kids a sense that rocks have an important role in our world, so why not introduce them early?
Additionally, check out local Rock, Gem, and Mineral Shows that might be available to people in your area. Showing kids first-hand the excitement around rocks helps them to make an even greater connection to science.
I’ve used this book in my professional teaching and with my own girls. It’s one of my favorites that I thought I’d share with you. It’s an endearing story about a magic pebble that grants wishes…and the donkey who accidentally becomes a rock.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent that has discovered bulging pockets full of rocks on an outing. Do your kids have a rock collection?