Geology is such a fun topic to tackle. Yet it can be challenging to break to down the information into bite-sized pieces for young kids to grasp and enjoy. Here are a few things we’ve done this year to make our geology unit fun for our kids.
My overall goal was simple, to open their eyes to details, to expose them to some rich vocabulary, and do some hands-on exploration.
Writing Out Objectives
Keeping in mind that my kids range from preschool to early elementary, here were a few of my objectives:
- Learn what the science of geology encompasses (types of rocks, earth’s layers, volcanos, minerals. etc)
- Learn basic geology vocabulary
- Identify and learn a few names of common rocks and minerals
- Practice categorizing and sorting rocks
- Start a rock collection
- Build curiosity and interest
Start a Rock Collection
When I was researching geology resources, I noticed that you could buy an actually rock collection. Full of a colors and variety: it was tempting. While it may have made for some fun sorting, the kids would have missed out on the whole collecting part. There is something so magical about finding the rocks on your own.
By creating their own collection, it opened their eyes to the world around them. They were able to put in the effort, get their hands dirty, and discover something worth keeping.
Now, whenever we are out and about, they are on the lookout for new treasures they can add to their collection.
At this point my kids are not quite able to look at a rock and label it as igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic. But they are learning to look closer and see differences that will one day help them to categorize them correctly.
I made up these nature sorting mats, to give them a starting point for categorizing and sorting their rocks. Getting them to notice things like weight, color variation, and texture will play a big part in our geology lessons later on.
Build a Volcano
We live near Mt. Saint Helen’s so my kids are naturally interested in this aspect of geology. My kids like hearing my parents recall the day it erupted and ash falling from the sky like snow. Building a volcano was an easy, fun way to demonstrate how the eruption took place.
With a paper plate, plastic cup, and foil, we made our volcano. Then we added food dye, baking soda and vinegar to the cup for a chemical reaction that overflows. (If you want to try this, here is the easy volcano experiment tutorial that we used.)
Learn Types of Rocks Using Crayons
Crayons were a great tool to teach the different ways rocks are formed. First, to learn about sedimentary rocks, we grated the crayons, and discussed how sedimentary rocks are formed by combining particles.
Then we placed the particles between foil and pressed them together to talk about how metamorphic rocks were formed by existing material using heat and pressure. (The heat being body heat for the experiment.)
Then lastly, we put pieces of broken crayon in a muffin cup and heated it in the oven symbolizing how an igneous rock is formed by cooling lava.
(Note: This activity idea was included in the curriculum we used.)
Make Sugar Crystals
Making sugar and salt crystals is another great activity. We tried the sugar crystals, which was an epic fail the first time, because we didn’t let the sugar fully dry on the stick before we dipped it into the colored sugar water. If you want to try this experiment, here is the Rock Candy tutorial that we used. (Just make sure you allow your sugar to fully dry on the stick first.)
Crack Open Geodes
This was the one thing I splurged on: getting a set of geodes for the kids to break open. The kit I got, came with geodes, a magnifying glass, as well as, protective eyewear. This was such a fun experiment, especially for my son, and then when were finished they all had something to add to their new rock collection.
Geology for Kids Curriculum
There are a lot of great geology curriculum resources. I purchased the Good and Beautiful Geology Unit and used it for two things. First, as an outline, to make sure I was covering all the basics of geology. And second, for some their pictures, experiments, videos, and worksheets. (I also purchased their Rocks and Minerals picture book.)
Picture Books About Geology for Kids
Here are some great picture books to supplement a geology unit. (Amazon affiliate links included in this list.)
- The Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston
- Magic School Bus Blows its Top /Inside the Earth
- Rocks Fossils and Arrowheads by Laura Evert
- My Book of Rocks and Minerals by Devin Denny
- Volcanoes by Dr. Franklin M. Branley
- Charlotte and Rock by Steven W. Martin
- Rhoda’s Rock Hunt by Molly Beth Griffen
- A Rock Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas
- Jump into Science: Rocks and Minerals by Steve Tomecek
- If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk
A Successful Geology Unit
I can tell learning has happened when I hear the kids digging around in the back yard throwing around terms like “igneous”, “arrowheads”, and “geologists”. Through their play they are processing all the things we have been learning about and I couldn’t be more pleased.
As I am finding, kids won’t grasp everything, but if you fan the flame of interest, you will find that the curiosity and learning will keep on going even after the unit is over.
Extra Geology Activities, Ideas, AND Resources
There are so many things you could tag onto your geology unit to make it more fun and engaging. Here are a few more things we are saving for our next time around. (Amazon affiliate links included in this list)
- Rock, Fossil, Mineral Collection Kit
- Rock Tumbler Kit
- Mega Crystal Growing Kit
- Layers of the Earth play dough Activity
- Rocks and Minerals Dover Coloring Book
What are some of your favorite ways to make geology fun for kids?
This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.