Our rock dig.

He’s using the magnifying glass to see if he’s found any rocks yet.

We have been doing a lot of study of rocks on and off. So I decided to splurge on one of those rock dig kits. I used the Smithsonian one (There’s a link to it below).

Smithsonian Rock and Gem Dig

We first reviewed our types of rocks, minerals, and ore. I used the Rock and Mineral (DK Eyewitness DVD) as our textbook. It has great pictures and explanations. It also came with a CD/DVD that has all the art from the book on it. We spent some time reading the book, and reviewing the different types of rocks.

Then we practiced writing some of our rock words: crystal, ore, mineral, rock, and dig. It gave him a variety of letters, and really helped him keep focused on the lesson.

I also cut the word “geologist” out and cut out each letter separately. I had Nicholas put the letters together to make the word “geologist.” Then we talked about what a geologist is, and what you would do to be a geologist.

Finally, I pulled out our rock dig. So far, it has been over an hour and we are still working on the dig. He’s having a blast doing the hammering. Less important to him is finding some of the rocks. More important seems to be getting the big block of stone to crack and making a big mess. But being able to use the hammer and chisel, just like a real geologist would, is a big thing for him. He’s been saying, “I’m a geologist on a rock hunt,” while hammering.

Pounding away with the hammer and chisel works on his hand-eye coordination and motor skills.

I’ve been labeled the “geologist’s helper,” who is in charge of brushing away the dust.

We have found a few rocks. Every time we find one, we have to run it through water to clean it, then dry it. We have our book open to the page that shows which rocks are which and classify it as a metamorphic rock, igneous rock, or sedimentary rock. Then we pull out the guide from the Smithsonian box and find out exactly what type of rock it is. The Smithsonian guide includes pictures and characteristics of each rock.

I ask questions like, “Is this rock hard or soft?” and “What colors is the rock?” Then we match everything up with the chart from the box and find out what type – exactly – it is.

This is a blast. I’m loving spending the time with Nicholas. He’s developing his knowledge of what rocks are which, whether they are minerals, crystals, ore, or just rocks. He’s also developing his motor skills with the pounding away. His curiosity is growing about rocks as he goes through finding each one, wondering which one is coming next.

Plus, we are doing this together. It is fabulous.

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