My children are constantly collecting rocks, and we have also had fun cracking open geodes as a family! Rocks are amazingly unique, each with their own color, texture, size, and shape. It’s no wonder that rocks are natural, open-ended learning toys for children!
The best part of “rock education” is that rocks are everywhere! Our children don’t need the iPad or television to learn about rocks.
Through real life experiences, our children get to feel the weight of each stone, measure the size with their hands and arms, and learn to balance and climb on bumpy terrain.
At our local beach, my children have been fascinated by the smallest rocks to the tallest boulders in the ocean.
When they wonder how giant rock arches eventually erode and become small rocks, ocean waves roll into the shore and demonstrate their ebbs and flows which eventually wear down all structures.
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I’m going to share some of the ways my children have learned about rocks through nature outings and geode kits. The end of the post concludes with our favorite books about rocks, and I’d love to learn about your favorites, too!
Exploring the inside of geodes with children
While the outside of rocks are plenty fascinating for young children, geodes takes the awe to another level! Last year, both of my children had a blast comparing the inside of different geodes compared to that of regular rocks.
What you need for the geode activity
- National Geographic Break Open Geodes Kit – set comes with small magnifying glass, safety goggles, and 10 geodes
We ended up preferring this larger magnifying glass compared the tiny one that comes with the kit.
Please remember that adult supervision and safety goggles are required! The rocks are hard to break, and when cracked, pieces may fly astray (eg, into eyes)!
Tips for using the geode kit:
- Please follow the directions that come with the geode kit! The geode kit comes with instructions!
- Find old socks that you don’t care for. The instructions say to place the rocks in a sock to keep the pieces contained. The first geode that we cracked caused pieces to fly far! Thankfully, nobody was in the line of fire. However, we placed subsequent geodes in a sock and it was much better. Just know that the sock will likely be ruined due to impact from hammering. So pick a pair that you won’t miss!
Here’s a closer look at the inside of the geodes! My children have enjoyed examining the geodes along with smooth pebbles.
Authentic hands-on experiences, like cracking open geodes, encourage discussion about different colors, textures, and other observed characteristics.
Exploring rocks in nature
Of course, the ultimate way to explore rocks is simply going outside!
Although it might seem silly to list this as an activity, basics like unstructured play outside can be easily overshadowed when we are constantly bombarded with technology and electronic toy advertisements.
We need to make time for nature and giving the child space for uninterrupted observation, which can be a challenge with our modern, busy schedules.
This rocky beach is one of our favorite spots in our small California town.
Not only is it a peaceful place to reflect and enjoy the scenery, the bumpy terrain makes it an exciting playground for our family!
These natural experiences are important for building memories with my children while practicing speaking our minority language, Chinese, to each other!
Related: Nature Literacy Activities for Kids
Rocks and minerals: Science books for children
Here are our favorite educational and beautifully photographed books about rocks!
- iSuper Science books (detailed review)
Both of my children enjoy looking at the gorgeously detailed images, especially after exploring the giant rock arches at the beach!
While reading these books, I gave my son a Chinese rock labeled “石” from our 石 radical activity. This helped my son learn the important 石 Chinese character.
What about your family?
Do your children like to collect rocks and explore nature? What are your family’s favorite books about rocks in Chinese and English? We would love to learn more from you in the comment section below.
More ways to learn with rocks
- Fun Ways to Use Stones for Chinese Reading & Writing Practice!
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Chinese and Korean) Story Stones Learning Activity