Rock On!

I am planning to teach a lesson on rocks with a third grade class in the fall, but I am unaware as of where to find inexpensive rock/mineral kits. How did you teach the lesson in a way that engaged the students?
– A., Pennsylvania

Studying rocks is such a great, hands-on unit and is a natural subject for kids to immerse themselves into!

In almost every state and province there are mineral and mining organizations and government agencies that have kits/resources available. Do a quick search in your region to find where you can order inexpensive sample kits.

A few good resource sites:
American Geosciences Institute: A huge repository of educational resource links
Mineralogical Society of America
Mining Matters (Canada)

Once you get some kits students can go through several of the properties: hardness, streak (use the back of sample subway tiles), lustre, color, maybe even fluorescence (you can use inexpensive “black light” pens but make sure to review safety procedures).

It is easy to combine other subjects into this topic! Resource maps identifying the locations of significant mineral deposits in your region not only bridge to social studies but can lead to discussions on where communities arose, conservation issues, pros and cons of mining, and so on. Finding out where we use solid minerals in our homes and consumer products connects what students are learning to their everyday lives. Research projects and presentations on specific minerals are great language arts activities. Incorporate engineering practices by designing mines that have the least environmental impact.

Hope this helps!

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