We’ve just finished a science unit on rocks and minerals. Most of this unit was focused on Miss M, my third grader. The boys (K and Pre-K age) enjoyed the hands on part of the study, but were less interested in continuing the study beyond that point.
The hands-on element is pretty key to an interesting study on rocks and minerals. You might be able to use samples you can find locally…or maybe you have a friend with a rock collection you can borrow. But if not, buying rock and mineral sample kits is probably a good option.
After reading a bunch of reviews on Amazon and browsing the Home Science Tools website, I decided to go with the Rock Study Kit and Mineral Study Kit from Home Science Tools. These kits were reasonably priced and I was very happy with what we received. Since the kits looked similar to kits that got poor reviews on Amazon I wasn’t sure if we would end up with tiny specimens that would be hard to use. But that wasn’t the case. Each specimen was reasonably sized and the kids had a great time examining them and doing the activities suggested in the instructions that came with the kits:
I had originally planned on just doing a few library books and videos to go along with our hands on discussion and activities, but Miss M requested to make a lapbook for this unit.
As it happened, I already had purchased the Rocks and Minerals lapbook project pack from Hands of a Child last year — we just never made it to this science topic!
Miss M did a few lapbook pieces per week for the last couple weeks to complete this lapbook:
Most of the minibooks in the lapbook came from the Hands of a Child lapbook kit, but we did use a few other items as well. I found a neat birthstone foldable…and now I can’t seem to find the link to it. (I’ll come back and add it if I do!)
One thing I had a hard time finding was good piece comparing the similarities and differences between minerals and rocks. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for a Venn Diagram. I liked how this site used the analogy of flour vs. chocolate chip cookies to compare minerals and rocks. So, I used that concept for a minibook cover and made the Venn Diagram inside. If you would like a copy of this foldable minibook for personal/educational use, you may download it here.
Books we used for our Unit:
Magic School Bus chapter book “Rocky Road Trip“: I read this aloud to all the kids. It was fun and informational.
National Geographic Everything Rocks and Minerals: An informative book with lots of pictures. Miss M read most of this book on her own.
100 Things You Should Know About Rocks and Minerals: Another fact filled, informative book we found at the library. I don’t think Miss M made it all the way through this one. I also read portions out loud to the boys as they were interested.
A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston, Illustrated by Silvia Long: This is a much more “literary” non-fiction book with beautiful illustrations and shorter passages of text. This one makes a much more interesting read-aloud than most of your typical non-fiction section science books we find at the library.
Videos we Watched:
Rock and Mineral Videos at The Happy Scientist (subscription site).
Just for fun:
The kids had been asking to make rock candy for a while, so we did that…even though it is really only loosely connected to actual rocks. 🙂 You can read more in this post about our adventures with rock candy.
One other note:
Most, if not all, the resources we use come from an old-earth perspective. As a family we believe in a young earth creation. However, these type of resources are not as easy to come by (certainly not at the library!). We’ve chosen to handle this by discussing that scientists are looking at rocks and minerals from the perspective of how things might have come to be without God in the picture. Since we believe God is our Creator, we know it didn’t need to take millions or billions of years. So far, this has worked for our family and the kids seem okay with understanding why people might think the earth is really, really old and yet we don’t necessarily need to agree with this perspective.