Minerals — Our Hands Activities, Seeing the BIGGEST Diamond in the World and more!

We finished up our close look at the three types of rocks and moved on to minerals.

Last summer I bought a couple extra bags to pan for rocks and minerals when we were at an amusement park.  I saved it just for this unit and the kids loved it!!  It was a bit chilly out, so we had to use a big plastic bin in the bathroom rather than going outside.

The kids spent over an hour pouring over their treasures and trying to figure out what they had — amethyst, obsidian, pyrite and so forth:

The kids filled out this sheet on birthstones and we talked about the birthstones of our entire extended family!

The birthstone sheet is on page 12 of our Rocks and Minerals Pack:

We also talked about crystal structures since minerals have a crystalline structure. The atoms within the solid are arranged in a geometric pattern that is unique to that mineral. After reading about all this, we did one of those quick crystal growing kits I picked up at Christmas time for 50% off. The kids all loved this because the crystals grew so quickly and we spent a lot of time looking closely at the crystals that formed. 

I ran a half-marathon this past weekend in Washington DC.  We took the opportunity to do a field trip to the Smithsonian and saw the geology rooms in the Natural History Museum.  It was awesome! The kids were so impressed by the Hope Diamond (the biggest diamond in the world):

And the kids thought the exhibit was wonderful!  They loved the vibrant colors of all the rocks and minerals!

The kids were blown away by the rope lava. By the way, if you’re studying volcanoes/igneous rocks right now, Kylie over at Our Worldwide Classroom has a great tissue-paper volcano project. In fact, I might do this with ED just for fun.

The kids were also impressed with this huge piece of copper:

That makes a good segue into the uses for minerals, right?!! We spent some time talking about some of the uses of minerals around the homes (from the Rocks and Minerals Pack I made)

 These are on pages 8-10 of the Rocks and Minerals Pack:

I have one more post to share with you from this geology unit that the kids did to help them understand topographic maps.  There is still more we could do on this unit, but to be honest I’m not sure whether we’re going to go any farther with this material or head off to another unit.  It feels like we did a pretty thorough jobs with rocks and minerals for now (so maybe that’s my answer, right?) Anyway, I’m just thinking aloud as I type.  

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  1. by Kylie

    On March 26, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    We are using Real Science 4 Kids this year too!! I’m loving your posts on geology, they will be of great help when we get to that in science.

    Thanks for linking to my volcano project :-)