Geology ROCKS!


Rocks! See below for books, projects, experiments, arts and crafts, and much more. Celebrate National Fossil Day, make eggshell geodes, take a nature walk with alphabet rocks, grow gorgeous crystals, play the ancient Asian game of Five Stones, and build your own catapult.

And don’t miss Earth Science Week, which is celebrated each year in October. Check out the website (see below) for ideas, activities, research projects, a photo gallery, and a state-by-state list of Earth Science organizations.

About Rocks and Minerals

 images By Dianna Hutts Aston, A Rock is Lively (Chronicle Books, 2012) is a beautifully designed and illustrated introduction to the world of rocks, feature by feature, in the same format as Aston’s previous nature picture books, among them An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-7 Steve Tomacek’s Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2010) in the Jump Into Science series is a colorful introduction to rocks covering the formation of the planet, the building blocks of rocks, and uses of rocks. Included is a project for making a rock of your own (using sand, pebbles, and white glue). For ages 4-8.
Also in the Jump Into Science series, see Tomacek’s Dirt (2007), which includes a soil stratification project, and Ellen Prager’s Sand (2006).
 imgres-1 Natalie M. Rosinsky’s Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough (Picture Window Books, 2002) is a simple introduction to igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Included are a rock identification chart and an explanation of the Mohs Hardness Scale. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-2 The Mohs Hardness Scale was invented in 1812 by German mineralogist Frederich Mohs. This website explains the scale (in ten easy steps, from talc to diamond) and shows how a number of common items (fingernails, a penny) fall into place.
 imgres-3 In Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth (Scholastic, 1989), the incomparable Ms. Frizzle – in hard hat and rock-patterned jumpsuit – takes her class on a journey to the center of the earth. (They return to the surface via volcanic eruption.) Information about rock layers and rocks is delivered through cartoon bubbles and hand-lettered student reports. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-4 Melissa Stewart’s Extreme Rocks and Minerals (HarperCollins, 2007) combines gorgeous color photos with a reader-friendly question-and-answer format. Sample questions: “What is a mineral?” “What is a rock?” “How do you identify sedimentary rocks?” “How are rocks recycled?” Included are links to relevant Smithsonian websites. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-5 Jacqui Bailey’s The Rock Factory (Picture Window Books, 2007) tells the story of the rock cycle through the adventures of one rock, born in the depths of a volcano. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-6 By Simon Basher and Dan Green, Rocks and Minerals (Kingfisher, 2009) covers the three rock types, ores, minerals, gems, and fossils in a fact-filled breezy text, giving each feature a first-person voice. Clay, for example, states, “I’m the type of mushy goo that can suck rain boots off your feet. My main ingredients are tiny particles that you can’t see unless you use an electron microscope.” Shale announces, “My experiences in becoming a rock have been brutal.” Illustrated with great little cartoon icons. One of an extensive science series, all good. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres Steve Tomacek’s reader-friendly National Geographic Kids: Everything Rocks and Minerals variously covers different types of rocks, uses of rocks (arrowheads, coal, the Taj Mahal), the rock cycle, gemstones, and rock collecting. Illustrated with gorgeous color photographs. An appealing read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-8 Mark Kurlansky’s The Story of Salt (Putnam Juvenile Books, 2006) is a picture-book history covering all aspects of salt. Fascinating for ages 8-12. (For teenagers and adults, see Kurlansky’s much longer Salt: A World History (Penguin Books, 2003).)
 imgres-9 Salt is the only mineral we eat. Learn more about sea salt, salt beds, salt domes, and more at About Salt. Included is a link to a site with instructions for making your own salt crystals.
 imgres-10 In the Eyewitness series, Rocks & Minerals (Dorling Kindersley, 2008) by R.F. Symes covers rock formation, weathering and erosion, the three basic kinds of rocks, fossils, gemstones, minerals, and precious metals, with separate sections devoted to limestone caves, rocks as tools, coal, rocks from space, and rock collecting. Each topic has a double-page spread, illustrated with spectacular photos and diagrams. The bulk of the text is in picture captions. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-11 By Rebecca Lawton, Diana Lawton, and Susan Panttaja, Discover Nature in the Rocks (Stackpole Books, 1997) is a family-friendly 200+-page survey of general geology, covering minerals, rocks, volcanoes, sediment, fossils, erosion, water, continents and tectonic plates, earthquakes, and rocks in space. Each chapter includes several activities (model sedimentary layers in a glass jar, bake a batch of volcano tarts, make a Pangaea puzzle), an interesting selection of further “Things to Think About,” and helpful book and video lists.
 imgres-12 By famed nonfiction writer John McPhee, Annals of the Former World (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000) is a fascinating geologic overview of the United States, based on a series of cross-country trips McPhee took in company with various geologists. Portions of the trip were published as separate earlier books (Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising From the Plains, Assembling California); Annals of the Former World includes them all, plus. Highly recommended for interested teenagers and adults.
 imgres-13 The Roadside Geology series (Mountain Press) has a volume for each state, detailing geological history and key features. Fun to keep in the car.
 images-1 Minerals in Our Environment is a cool poster showing the rooms of a house with numbered objects whose (often surprising) mineral composition is listed in the margins. The bathroom mirror, for example, contains feldspar, silica, and silver; living-room carpets contain limestone and selenium.
 images-2 At OneGeology, kids click on a cute little character to learn about geology, maps, rocks and minerals, fossils and dinosaurs, earthquakes, volcanoes, worldwide geology, energy, water, and earth processes. Each character’s page has kid-friendly information, interactive diagrams, video clips, photos, and a short quiz.
 images-3 Rock Hound Kids (“Helping Kids to Love Geology”) has a mineral photo gallery, interactive graphics on geology basics, an online rock game (“Who Am I?”), and resource lists for parents and teachers.
 images-4 The Smithsonian’s Department of Mineral Sciences has a wealth of resources, among them the incredible Dynamic Earth map (track earthquakes, volcanoes, impact craters, and plate boundaries) and the Global Volcanism Program (“10,000 years of volcanic activity at your fingertips”). Visitors can also check out (wonderful) ongoing exhibits, and learn about the Hope Diamond and the search for Antarctic meteorites.
 images-5 Bob’s Rock Shop is an online zine for rockhounds, with dozens of interesting articles. Click on the Table of Contents to find Rocks in the News, of which there’s much more than you might think. There’s also a page on rock and fossil stamps, info on rock-collecting hikes, rock and mineral identification guides, and an extensive bookstore.
 images-6 Got a question about rocks, minerals, volcanoes, earthquakes, mountains, maps, rivers, or any other geological topic? Go to Ask-a-Geologist.

Hands-On Rocks

 imgres-16 By Anthony D. Fredericks, Under One Rock (Dawn Publications, 2001) is a rhyming picture-book account of the ecosystems (“Bugs, Slugs, and Other Ughs”) to be found under rocks. An appendix of Field Notes provides more information on the creatures most likely to be found. Pair this one with an outdoor rock-turning expedition. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-17 Cindy Blobaum’s Geology Rocks! (Williamson Publishing, 1999), subtitled “50 Hands-On Activities to Explore the Earth,” is a witty and informational collection covering everything from rock types to earthquakes and the structure of the planet. For example, try mining with a chocolate chip cookie, make a sand sculpture, play a rock version of Tic-Tac-Toe. Illustrated with a mix of cartoon drawings and photographs. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-18 By Cynthia Light Brown, Explore Rocks and Minerals (Nomad Press, 2010) is a collection of 25 projects, activities, and experiments for rock lovers. Various chapters cover the structure of the earth, minerals and crystals, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, fossils, and rock collecting. Included are fact boxes and “Words 2 Know” lists. For example, kids make pumice (meringue) cookies, grow crystals and stalactites, make fossils, and more. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-27 From the Lawrence Hall of Science GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) program, see Stories in Stone, a creative 8-lesson, 164-page earth science unit for grades 4-8. (To accompany it, you’ll need a sample rock and mineral collection; sources are listed. Also see below.) Working with samples, kids differentiate between rocks and minerals, classify both, identify “mystery rocks,” experiment with crystals, and make clay models to study the rock cycle and plate tectonics.
 freedownload23 From TOPScience, Rocks and Minerals is an 88-page, activity-based study unit for grades 6-12 (or younger), variously covering types of rocks, Mohs hardness scale, rock identification, the rock cycle, and more. The TOPScience units are impressively clever, with detailed teaching tips, background information, and instructions for building your own sophisticated scientific equipment out of practically nothing. Highly recommended.
 imgres-20 USGS Educational Resources has wonderful lesson plans, activity instructions, and downloadable teacher’s guides and student booklets on a wide range of environmental and earth science topics for grades K-6 and 7-12. Geology resource sub-categories include Geomagnetism, Astronomy and Astrogeology, Plate Tectonics, Geologic Maps, Rocks and Minerals, Fossils and Caves, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and more.
 images-3 Geology for Kids has interactive games, videos, lists of fun facts, and lesson plans. Kids can experiment online with rocks, minerals, and soils. Make quicksand and a vinegar volcano.
 imgres-21 Sponsored by the American Geosciences Institute, Earth Science Week has a long (long) alphabetized list of activities, categorized by grade level and based on the National Science Education Standards. Sample project titles: A Model of Three Faults, Chocolate Rock Cycle, Earthquake Machine, Geologic Age, Mud Fossils, and Rock Around the World.
 images-7 From Grand Canyon National Park, Geology Lesson Plans is a printable collection of informational activities with detailed instructions. Titles include “What’s Inside the Earth?” “Plate Tectonics,” “Which Rock Am I?” “Grand Canyon Geologic Timeline,” and “Fossilization Game.”
 imgres-22 Earth Learning Idea posts a new earth-related teaching idea or project every week.
 images-8 From National Geographic, Quiz Your Noodle is an interactive multiple-choice quiz on geology.
 imgres-23 Discover with Dr. Cool science kits are terrific resources for young rock lovers. Among these: the Mine for Gems and Mine for Fossils kits, which come with digging tool, brush, and ten high-quality specimens embedded in a digging block; the Learn How to Pan for Gold kit, which has a prospector’s pan, mining tools, and two bags of “pay dirt” which contain – in lieu of actual gold – pyrite nuggets; and the Glow Rocks kit, which has a portable UV lamp, six fluorescent rock specimens, and an adventure guide. Very cool.
 imgres-24 The Microslide Viewer is a truly terrific little apparatus – it looks a bit like a microscope (though is cheap, lightweight, washable, and pretty much indestructible) and can be used to view strips of photomicrographs (microslides), collections of eight or more photographs taken through microscopes at various degrees of magnification. There are dozens of microslide sets, among them “Rocks and Rock-Forming Minerals,” “Fossils,” and “Mineral Characteristics and Identification,” each a fascinating series of thin sections. (See granite, really close-up.) Viewers cost about $10; microslide sets about $6. Highly recommended. Available from a number of science suppliers; I had the best and most cost-effective luck at
 Playful-Ways-to-Teach-Young-Kids-About-Rocks 30 Playful Ways to Teach Young Kids About Rocks is a great collection of rock activities for the very young, including a make-your-own-rock activity, a percussion rock band project, a letter R craft (with rocks), and more.
imgres-28 This Planet Really Rocks  has great activities for rock-lovers. Tackle a Famous Rock Scavenger Hunt, make eggshell geodes, bake sedimentary rock snacks, make a paper model of granite, and more.
 imgres-25 Home Science Tools carries a range of materials for geology fans, including rock and mineral collections, an earth cross-section model, soil test lab kits, gold panning gravel, and volcano kits.
 imgres-25 MiniMe Geology is a source for rock cycle, rock, and mineral kits, starter rock collections, individual rock and mineral samples, and geology equipment for rock hounds. Also at the site are a series of fascinating geology articles on a wide range of topics and an illustrated and annotated list of birthstones.
 imgres-26 is a terrific source for information about geology and earth science, along with books, field guides, maps, and geology equipment (everything from rock hammers to gold pans). Click on Teacher Resources for an excellent collection of resources and activities, among them a plate tectonics animation, rock and mineral identification helps, information on buying and using a rock tumbler, and Adaptive Earth Science Activities, an 80-page printable booklet of geology and earth science projects, among them “Parking Lot Gravel,” “Spelunking,” “Rock Riddles,” “Mighty Metamorphic Power Rocks,” and “Modeling Geologic Columns with Sand Art.” For each are included a materials list, step-by-step instructions, and follow-up questions.
 imgres-26 From the Geological Society of America, Resources for K-12 Earth Science Educators is a long list of lesson plans and hands-on projects for elementary, intermediate, and secondary students, categorized by topic – among these “Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” “Geology and Geologic Time,” “Paleontology and Evolution,” “Plate Tectonics,” and “Rocks, Minerals, and Mining.”
 images-1 Polish rocks! Home Science Tools has a nice assortment of rock tumblers, grit, and ready-to-polish rocks.
 images-9 Break your own geodes! (Put them in a sock and smack them with a hammer to reveal an inner cavity filled with crystals.) Available from several sources; a box of ten, each 1-2 inches in diameter, is available here. About $10.
 imgres-29 For the dramatic geologist, Geology ROCKS! (Bad Wolf Press) is a 25-minute musical for elementary-level kids. The plot: Professor Rock has disappeared and his students head out on a quest to find him, with the dubious help of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. En route they encounter volcanoes and other geological features, and learn about the rock cycle. Script, teacher’s guide, and musical CD cost $39.95.
 imgres-30 Five Stones is a game believed to have originated in ancient Asia. It’s like jacks, with a twist. All you need to play is hand-eye coordination and five small stones. Another reason to collect pebbles.

 Planet Earth, or Third Rock From the Sun

 images-10 Gail Gibbons’s Planet Earth/Inside Out (HarperCollins, 1997) is a brightly colored picture-book survey of geology, covering the formation and structure of the earth, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the three major types of rocks. A simple straightforward introduction for ages 5-8.
 imgres-19 Seymour Simon’s Volcanoes (HarperCollins, 1996) covers the origin of volcanoes and famous volcanoes worldwide with beautiful color photographs and diagrams. For ages 6-10.
In the same format, see Seymour Simon’s Earthquakes (HarperCollins, 2006).
 imgres-31 By Matthys Levy and Mario Salvadori, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis (Chicago Review Press, 2009) explains the science behind earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunami waves, with helpful black-and-white illustrations, diagrams, and many projects, demonstrations, and experiments. For example, kids simulate the behavior of tectonic plates using a hardboiled egg, build a model seismograph, and demonstrate ground shocks with a Slinky. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-32 By Dinah Zikes, The Earth Science Book (John Wiley & Sons, 1993) is an informational activity book in seven chapters, variously covering the Earth, Matter, the Lithosphere (rocks), the Hydrosphere, the Atmosphere, Life, and Our Changing Earth. Included are clear explanations, many black-and-white illustrations and diagrams, fact boxes, and “Famous Faces” with brief biographies of important scientists. For ages 7-11.
 images-11 Geology Labs Online are free web-based activities targeted at students in middle school and up. Each lab – Virtual Earthquake, Virtual Dating, and Virtual River – has images, demonstrations, tutorials, and a series of tasks that involve observation, measurement, and data analysis. (Finish and you get a cool congratulatory certificate.)

Special Rocks

 imgres-33 Leslie McGuirk’s photo-illustrated If Rocks Could Sing (Tricycle Press, 2011) is a “Discovered Alphabet” in rocks, all found on the beach near the author’s home. B, for example, is for Bird, and features both a rock shaped like the letter B and a bird-shaped rock in a nest. What a great idea for a family rock-hunting project. For ages 3 and up.
 Alphabet-Rocks- Take a Nature Walk with Alphabet Rocks. In this fun activity, kids paint the letters of the alphabet on rocks, then take a hike and distribute their rocks in appropriate locations outdoors. (F next to a flower; G in the grass?)
imgres-37 Byrd Baylor’s wonderful picture book Everybody Needs a Rock (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011) tells readers just how to choose their own very special rock. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-34 Peggy Christian’s If You Find a Rock (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008) – illustrated with lovely color-tinted photographs by Barbara Hirsch Lember – is a celebration of all the possibilities to be found in rocks: skipping stones, chalk rocks for drawing on sidewalks, mossy rocks for resting on beside a trail, wishing rocks, and more. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-35 In Lucille Clifton’s The Lucky Stone (Yearling, 1986), Tee loves her great-grandmother’s stories of the family lucky stone (“a warm stone, shiny black as nighttime”) that has brought good luck to its owners for over a hundred years – first helping Mandy, a runaway slave, find her way to freedom. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-38 Fairy stones or fairy crosses – actually crystals of staurolite – are found in the Smoky Mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. Said to bring good luck to their owners. (Charles Lindbergh – a.k.a. Lucky Lindy – carried one.) Read about them here – or go hunt for your own at Virginia’s Fairy Stone Park.
image Rocks! They make great souvenirs. Check out some of the collectibles in the Smithsonian’s Souvenirs exhibit, among them pieces of Plymouth Rock, the Bastille, and the Berlin Wall, and a stone from Joan of Arc’s dungeon.

Rock Collecting

 imgres-42 By Roma Gans, Let’s Go Rock Collecting (HarperCollins, 1997) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series covers rock formation, types of rocks, uses of rocks (Roman roads, Egyptian pyramids), and rock collecting. (“The oldest things you can collect are rocks.”) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-39 Carol Otis Hurst’s Rocks in His Head (Greenwillow Books, 2001) is the picture-book story of her father, an avid rock collector, who – after losing his job during the Great Depression – used his passion for rocks to win a job as Curator of Mineralogy at a science museum. It’s a great story of following a dream, even though people around him always mocked him, saying that he had rocks in his head. (To which he replied, “Maybe I have.”) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-40 In Gail Langer Karwoski’s Julie the Rockhound (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007), Julie finds a piece of quartz – and immediately becomes fascinated with rocks and minerals. Included are helpful instructions for hopeful rock collectors. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-41 The title character of Anna Browning’s Tanner Turbeyfill and the Moon Rocks (Diamond DMT Publishing, 2013) needs only one thing to make his rock collection complete: moon rocks! So off he goes to the moon. Facts about the moon and moon rocks are presented through Tanner’s Moon Journal. For ages 5-8.

Geological Time, or the Long, Long, Long History of Rocks

 imgres-36 In Judi Kurjian’s In My Own Backyard (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000), a child looks out a bedroom window and wonders who lived here before – and suddenly is plunged into a trip backwards through time, sequentially viewing colonists, native Americans, glaciers and woolly mammoths, dinosaurs and swamps. Included is a timeline. For ages 3-8.
 images-12 Virginia Lee Burton’s updated Life Story (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) – originally published in 1962 – is the story of life on Earth in four acts, from the creation of the solar system to the present day. A great resource for all ages.
 imgres-43 The star of Meredith Hooper’s The Pebble in My Pocket (Viking Juvenile Books, 1996) is a pebble that originated in a volcano 480 million years ago. The book follows the pebble through geologic time, step by step, to the present day, when it’s found on the ground by a young girl. Included is a timeline. For ages 8-11.
 imgres-44 Bruce Hiscock’s picture book The Big Rock (Aladdin, 1999) is the multi-million-year story of a granite boulder in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Read it and you’ll never take rocks for granted again. We read it on a picnic on a big rock in the woods and our kids were awed. (“This rock saw dinosaurs!”) For ages 5-10.
 imgres-45 From the University of California Museum of Paleontology, learn all about the Geologic Time Scale.
 imgres-46 Camels Often Sit Down Carefully…Check out this useful mnemonic for memorizing the geological periods in descending order of age.


 imgres-47 Aliki’s Fossils Tell of Long Ago (HarperCollins, 1990) is a charmingly illustrated introduction to fossils in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series for ages 4-8.
 imgres-48 Laurence Anholt’s Stone Girl, Bone Girl (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2006) is a picture-book of Mary Anning, who at the age of 12 discovered the skeleton of an ichthyosaur in a cliff near her seaside home in England and went on to become a famous fossil hunter. (One story holds that she was the inspiration behind the traditional tongue-twister “She sells seashells by the seashore.”) For ages 6-9.
 imgres-49 Laura Evert’s Rocks, Fossils, and Arrowheads (Cooper Square Publishing, 2001) in the Take-Along Guide series in an informational survey of rocks, minerals, fossils, arrowheads, and artifacts, with illustrations of key samples, suggestions on where to find, and assorted interesting facts. Also included are pages for field notes and project ideas (make rock candy, create your own fossil, design a friendship necklace). For ages 6-9.
  From Smithsonian magazine, read about The World’s Largest Fossil Wilderness.
 imgres-50 Fossils Rock is a wide-ranging site all about fossils with many examples, extreme fossil facts, coloring pages, puzzles, suggestions for starting a geology club, and a detailed series of lessons on the Clock of Eras, an investigation of geologic time. Included are a printable Clock and a recipe for geologic layer cake.
  imgres-51 From the National Park Service, National Fossil Day (in 2013, falls on October 16) has an Art & Photo Contest, general information, and a Kid’s Page with games, activities, a “Meet a Paleontologist” feature, a list of state fossils, and more. The multidisciplinary activities – there’s a long list – includes the downloadable Paleontologist’s Path (available for grades 1-3, 4-6, and 7-12), which includes activity sheets, game cards, paper fossils, and a fossil identification packet.
 images-14 From USGS. Fossils, Rocks, and Time is a unit on ordering fossils, the geologic time scale, rock layers, and fossil succession, illustrated with period photos and diagrams.
 imgres-53 David Attenborough’s Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives is a wonderful four-part series on fossils and life on prehistoric Earth. Available on DVD.
 imgres-52 Educational Fossils has several different fossil kits for sale; one of the most popular contains 12 fossils (among them a trilobite, an ammonite, and a sample of dinosaur bone) with descriptive cards and a geologic time chart. $18.

Jewels and Gems

 imgres-54 The Gems: Nature’s Jewels series (Gareth Stevens Publishing) by Eric Ethan is a collection of short picture books, each devoted to a different gem. Titles include Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies, Turquoise, Opals, and Sapphires. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-55 In the Eyewitness series, Crystal & Gem (Dorling Kindersley, 2007) by R.F. Symes and R.R. Harding covers crystal structure, color, identification, uses, and lore and legends, with individual sections devoted to quartz, diamond, corundum, beryl, and opal. Illustrated with spectacular photographs and diagrams. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-56 Victoria Finlay’s Jewels: A Secret History (Ballantine Books, 2006) is a fascinating and information-crammed history of gems, variously covering the stories behind amber, jet, pearl, opal, peridot, sapphire, ruby, emerald, and diamond. An absorbing read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-59 The Mineral & Gemstone Kingdom is a comprehensive online guide to minerals and gemstones. Click on a name for a wealth of information, illustrated with photographs.
 images-13 Check out the Smithsonian’s fabulous Gem Gallery.  Click on a thumbnail for a photograph and explanation. In alphabetical order from afghanite and agate to zircon and zoisite.
 imgres-57 From the Burke Museum, learn about the Science and Legends Behind Birthstones.
 imgres-58 Crystal-growing kits are available from many science suppliers, among them Edmund Scientifics and Discover This.

Rocks and Math

 imgres-60 Stuart J. Murphy’s Dave’s Down-to-Earth Rock Shop (HarperCollins, 2000) in the MathStart series is all about sorting and classification. Josh and Amy have started collecting rocks and need to put their finds in some sort of order. They get help from their neighborhood rock shop, whose window first displays rocks sorted by size and color, then by rock type and Mohs’ scale of hardness. For ages 5-8.
 images-15 Mancala or the African Stone Game – traditionally played with stones and pits dug in the ground – is one of the oldest strategy games in the world. This website has instructions and suggestions for homemade playing boards. (Try an egg carton, plus pebbles or dried beans.)
Play Mancala online.
 gameboard Sticks and Stones is a lesson plan based on the traditional Apache game of throw sticks. Kids make decorated throw sticks and a stone playing board; then collect data and determine the probability of various outcomes. Fun and clever.
 rstones Roman Board Games has game descriptions and images of playing boards and stone counters for such games as Calculi (Roman checkers) and Tabula (a version of backgammon).
 imgres-61 The ancient Asian game of Go was traditionally played with black and white stones. Learn its history and find out how to play here.

Geology and Poetry

 imgres-62 By Lisa Westberg Peters, Earthshake: Poems From the Ground Up (Greenwillow, 2003) is a beautifully illustrated collection of 22 geology-based poems. Titles include “Instructions for the Earth’s Dishwasher,” “Wyoming Layer Cake,” “Obituary for a Clam,” and “Recipe for Granite.” For ages 6-12.
 imgres-63 By Robert Browning, Among the Rocks.
 imgres-64 By Ken Nesbitt, A Rock Makes An Excellent Puppy.
 imgres-65 Between a Rock and a Bard – a joint celebration of National Poetry Day and Earth Science Week – discusses geology and poetry, with examples.
 imgres-65 From the Geological Society, Poetry and Geology has online talks and and a selection of geology-related poems.
 imgres-65 The Sciences Sing a Lullabye. Love this poem. (“Geology says: it will be all right.”)

Famous Rocks

 imgres-66 Jean L.S. Patrick’s Who Carved the Mountain? The Story of Mount Rushmore (Mount Rushmore History Association, 2005) is a fact-filled picture-book account of the making of the famous national monument featuring the sculpted faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Included is a timeline and bibliography. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-67 From the National Park Service, Mount Rushmore has information about the history of the carving. (Over 90% of it was done with dynamite.)
 imgres-68 Jean Fritz’s witty Who’s That Stepping on Plymouth Rock? (Puffin, 1998) is a history of the famous rock that became a national landmark – even though the Pilgrims almost certainly didn’t land upon it. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-69 John McPhee’s Travels of the Rock is a more detailed history of Plymouth Rock that originally appeared in the New Yorker magazine. A great read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-70 Rocks Around the World is an annotated photo gallery of famous rocks, each with a challenge question. (Click to see the answer.) Among the famous: Mount Rushmore, Independence Rock, Plymouth Rock, Ayer’s Rock, Stonehenge, and the Taj Mahal.
 imgres-71 Check out these photographs of 10 Famous Balancing Rocks worldwide.
 imgres-72 Learn about the Blarney Stone.
 imgres-73 Check out the Stone of Scone.
 imgres-74 History of Gibraltar is an illustrated history of the famously solid Rock of Gibraltar from prehistory to the present.
 imgres-75 What’s your state rock? (Vermont, it turns out, is geologically loaded: we have a state gem, three state rocks, a state mineral, and a state fossil. You?)

Rock Art, Ancient and New

 imgres-76 By Emily Arnold McCully, The Secret Cave (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2010) is the exciting picture-book story of how four young French boys discovered the Lascaux cave paintings. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-77 In Raymond Briggs’s Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age (Knopf, 2002), the Stone Age is all stone: Ug and his parents sleep in stone beds under stone blankets, and Ug, to his great discomfort, is even made to wear stone pants. As boy genius, however, Ug has ideas ahead of his time. (“Why can’t trousers be made of something else? Something softer?”) Eventually he invents the wheel and cooking, only to have both rejected by his parents, who don’t know how to cope with him. (“He’ll end up painting animals on the walls!” his mother cries in despair.) Which, in a final scene, Ug, now a grown man, does. The book, drawn in blocky panel cartoons, is funny, clever, and ultimately poignant; what looks like a joke soon becomes a parable about the difficulties inherent in trying to change the world for the better. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-78 Justen Denzel’s Boy of the Painted Cave (Puffin, 1996), set in France during the Stone Age, is the story of an orphaned 14-year-old boy who wants to be a cave painter – but is forbidden by the tribal leader. Cast from the tribe, he befriends a wild dog, is mentored by an aged painter named Graybear, and eventually comes into his own. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-79 Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a spectacular documentary on an expedition into France’s Chauvet caves to view artwork dating back 30,000 years. 90 minutes long, rated G. Available on DVD.
 imgres-80 Geri Schrab’s Weaving the Past with the Present is a coloring book of ancient North American petroglyphs and pictographs. About $7.
 images-16 Petroglyph Photos has a collection of great color photographs of petroglyphs from sites worldwide, including the American Southwest, Hawaii, India, Mexico, and Norway.
 imgres-81 In Linda Kranz’s rock-illustrated picture book Only One You (Cooper Square Publishing, 2006), Adri’s parents decide to pass down useful wisdom to their son (look for new friends, enjoy the simple things, don’t follow the crowd). The illustrations are brightly painted pebbles designed to look like fish. (Make some of your own.) For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-82 Linda Kranz’s photo-illustrated Let’s Rock (Cooper Square Publishing, 2003) is a collection of rock-painting projects with step-by-step instructions. For ages 6-12.
imgres-83 Natural Rock Art is a kit for creating painted pet rocks for ages 5 and up. About $10.
 rock_crafts_main_xl Martha Stewart’s Rock Crafts (“endless possibilities”) has suggestions for rock dominoes, rock bookends, rock refrigerator magnets, and helpful hints for making a lot of rock animals.
 ss_101930742_w Pebble Plaque is a project in which kids collect a batch of wonderful stones, then combine them with salt dough. The result is awesome.
 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA From Artists Helping Children, Rock Crafts for Kids has a long list of projects. Make a paperweight, a crystal rock garden, homemade stepping stones, a pebble mosaic, and a rock necklace.
 512Uq5e7qXL._SY450_ The Sculpture House Stone Carving Kit is targeted at beginners: included are carving tools, chunks of alabaster and soapstone, and an instruction booklet. About $28.
  Or check out this Soapstone Animal Carving Kit, with which kids ages 7 and up can make a stone bear and coyote. About $11.

 Rocks as Weapons

 images-17 The sling – the weapon that David used to down Goliath – is a truly ancient rock-throwing weapon. Read about its history here.
  Make your own sling! Making and Using the Venerable Hand Sling has historical background information and instructions.
 images-18 How to Make a Catapult for Kids has illustrated instructions for making several, categorized by distance, durability, ease of construction, easy of finding materials, and wow factor.
 imgres-84 Make a Marshmallow Catapult. You’ll need pencils and a cardboard box.
  Design and Make a Catapult is a fun challenge targeted at grades 3-6. The site has instructions, trigger questions, and background information on elasticity. For older kids, see the Physics Catapult Competition.
 images-19 Edmund Scientifics is a source for a variety of trebuchet and catapult kits, ranging from the large and expensive to the small and cheap.
 imgres-85 Tabletop Catapult: Build Your Own Siege Engine is a kit for building an historically accurate catapult. Included is a copy of William Gurstelle’s 192-page The Art of the Catapult.  About $29.
 imgres-86 William Gurstelle’s The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery (Chicago Review Press, 2004) is a collection of 10 working catapult projects with a lot of cool scientific and historical background information (and great emphasis on adult supervision and safety). For ages 11 and up.
 imgres-87 Curt Gabrielson’s Stomp Rockets, Catapults, and Kaleidoscopes (Chicago Review Press, 2008) is subtitled “30+ Amazing Science Projects You Can Build for Less that $1” – always a happy thought. The projects are categorized under Electricity and Magnetism; Sound, Light, and Perception; Mechanics; Fluids and Aerodynamics; Biology; and Chemistry. Each comes with a parts list, instructions, and a scientific explanation. (The catapult looks terrific.) For ages 9 and up, with help.
 imgres-88 Maxine Anderson’s Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself (Nomad Press, 2006) covers the life and times of Leonardo with 30 varied projects. For example, readers make plastic, walk-on-water shoes, a camera obscura, a helical air screw, invisible ink, and a catapult.

 Fictional Rocks and Magic Rocks

 imgres-89 In David McKee’s The Hill and the Rock (Andersen Press, 2011), Mr. and Mrs. Quest live on top of a hill with a wonderful view – except from the kitchen window, which is blocked by an enormous rock. Finally, frustrated, they roll the rock down the hill – with the result that the hill deflates like a balloon, goes flat, and then sinks to form a valley, leaving the Quests at the bottom of a hole. Luckily the rock rolls back down the slope and settles in front of the kitchen window again, the hill inflates, and all is restored to normal. For ages 3-6.
 imgres In Marcus Pfister’s, Milo and the Magical Stones (NorthSouth, 2010), Milo, a little mouse who lives in a cold cave on an island, finds a magical glowing stone that provides both light and heat. All the other (cold) mice promptly want stones of their own – though Balthazar, a particularly wise mouse, warns that if something is taken away from the island, something must be returned. The book then splits in two: there’s both a happy ending and a sad ending, depending. Basically, it’s a morality tale about environmental responsibility. For ages 3-7.
 images-20 By Sara Azizi, The Knight, the Princess, and the Magic Rock (Wisdom Tales, 2012) is a picture-book re-telling of the traditional Persian tale about Bijan, a brave knight, who falls in love with Manijeh, princess of an enemy kingdom, and ends up imprisoned in a pit covered by a magic rock. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-92 In Caryn Yacowitz’s The Jade Stone (Pelican Publishing, 2005), a retelling of a traditional tale, the Great Emperor of China gives a stone carver a perfect piece of green-and-white jade and demands that it be made into a dragon – but the carver, a true artist, knows that this is not what the stone wants to be. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-1 In Arnold Lobel’s Mouse Soup (HarperCollins, 2011), a dimwitted weasel catches a mouse with the intention of turning him into soup. Luckily the mouse turns the tables by means of four stories, among them the tale of “Two Large Stones.”  Delightful for ages 4-8.
 imgres-2 In Marcia Brown’s Caldecott-winning Stone Soup (Aladdin, 1997), originally published in 1947, three soldiers trudging home from the war come to a little French village, where the peasants rush to hide their food – until the clever soldiers begin to prepare a batch of Stone Soup. Soon everyone comes forward to offer ingredients, and in no time there’s a wonderful feast and a town party. For ages 4-8.
  For a video version of Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup, see the Caldecott Literature Series: Stone Soup. Alternative video versions can be found at Speakaboos: Stone Soup or at Vimeo: Stone Soup.
  For many more Stone Soup books and resources, see BEAUTIFUL SOUP.
 imgres-95 By Marc Harshman and Bonnie Collins, Rocks in My Pockets (Quarrier Press, 2002) is the story of the Woods family who live on a high mountain where the winds are so wild that they must carry rocks in their pockets to keep from being blown away. They also play games with the rocks, tell stories with rocks, and heat their beds with rocks. Then visitors from the city admire the Woods’s rocks and buy some to take home – which starts a positive run on rocks. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-97 In Chris Van Allsburg’s The Wretched Stone (Houghton Mifflin, 1991), told through a ship captain’s log, the crew has brought on board a mysterious glowing stone found on a desert island. They become obsessed with the stone, which has terrible effects; soon all have been transformed into apes. They’re saved by a near-shipwreck that sends the stone to the bottom of the sea. An object lesson about the perils of too much TV for ages 5-9.
 imgres-98 In William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (Aladdin, 2006), Sylvester, a young donkey, collects pebbles “of unusual shape and color.” One rainy Saturday he finds a magic pebble, capable of granting wishes – but on the way home to tell his parents the news, he encounters a lion, panics, and saves himself by wishing to be turned into a rock. The problem: he’s dropped the pebble and can’t wish himself back again. For ages 5-8.
  Watch a video version of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble here.
  The Teaching Children Philosophy website has guidelines and discussion questions to accompany Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.
 imgres-99 Eric Kimmel’s Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock (Holiday House, 1990) is a West African folktale featuring Anansi, the trickster spider, who finds a moss-covered rock that magically puts animals to sleep. He comes up with a nefarious scheme in which he leads animals to the rock, puts them to sleep, and then steals their stores of food – until shy little Bush Deer puts a spoke in his wheel. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-1 Gary Schmidt’s 32-page The Great Stone Face (Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 2005) is a re-telling of the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne tale in which a prophecy holds that someone will be born who looks just like New Hampshire’s Great Stone Face – the rock formation commonly called the Old Man of the Mountains – and he will be “the noblest person of his time.” For ages 7-11.
 imgres Read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Great Stone Face online here.
 imgres-2 The Great Stone Face – a.k.a. the Old Man of the Mountains – is no more; once a series of granite ledges on Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Great Stone Face broke away and fell in 2003. Read about its history here.
 imgres-3 Rebecca Rupp’s The Waterstone (Candlewick, 2005) features a quartet of tiny characters – Tad and Birdie of the Fisher Tribe, Ditany of the Hunters, and Will of the Diggers – who are on a quest to regain the fabled Waterstone from a powerful and evil nixie who is withholding the world’s water. This one got a STARRED REVIEW from Kirkus! For ages 9-12.
 imgres-4 Is there anyone in the world who hasn’t read Harry Potter? In Book One of J.K. Rowling’s ubiquitous series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or, in England, Philosopher’s Stone) (Scholastic, 1999), Harry and his Hogwarts pals attempt to prevent the evil Lord Voldemort from stealing the fabled sorcerer’s stone. For ages 9 and up.
  Read about The Philosopher’s Stone  – in alchemy a substance supposedly capable of turning base metals into gold.
 imgres-5 T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone (Philomel, 1993) is the first part of his much longer King Arthur saga, The Once and Future King. This is a stand-alone family read, the story of Sir Ector’s ward, young Wart, and his astonishing education by the old wizard, Merlin, culminating with his pulling the sword from the stone and revealing himself as King Arthur. Wonderful for ages 9 and up.
 imgres-6 Paula Fox’s The Stone-Faced Boy (Front Street, 2005) is the story of Gus, middle child in a large and noisy family, who hides his emotions behind an expressionless face. The only person who understands seems to be his great-aunt Hattie – who gives him a geode, a rock filled with beautiful crystals inside. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-3 Grow Magic Rocks! This kit comes with a tank, ingredients, instructions, and (depending on the version) a figurine of a shipwreck, shark, pirate treasure chest, or octopus. Rapidly grows a forest of dramatic crystals. Recommended for ages 10 and up without supervision; all ages with. Kits cost about $10.
  Make Your Own Magic Rocks explains how to make your own chemical crystal garden (though adds dampingly that most of the colorants “require access to a general chemistry lab”).
  From Science Buddies, see Guide to Purchasing Chemicals, which has explanations, a common-names list, and suppliers.













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  1. Posted July 30, 2013 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    Physical Geology, 13th edition, is the latest refinement of a classic introductory text that has helped countless students learn basic physical geology concepts for over 25 years. Students taking introductory physical geology to fulfill a science elective, as well as those contemplating a career in geology,

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