If you want to teach kids about the rock cycle, rock collecting is a great activity to help! Rock collecting can be an excellent hobby for kids! Not only is it fun to do, but it also helps children develop a love of nature and exploration. They learn about geology and the different types of rocks that are out there. It’s a great activity for those who aren’t into team sports or other organized activities.
While rocks are common, cheap, and found everywhere, the variety is huge. Collected rocks can be displayed in many ways, from rock gardens to neatly kept showcases, making rock collecting a versatile hobby.
Rock Collecting: A Hobby That is “Hard” to Resist
When rock collecting, you will soon find out that rocks can be categorized as one of three types. A sedimentary rock formed when sediments, such as sand or silt, were pressed together under their own weight or the weight of water, and eventually became solid.
Igneous rock is one that was formed by volcanic activity. The third type of rock for rock collecting is metamorphic rock, which is like a sedimentary rock that has been changed through intense heat and pressure.
Another type of rock collecting is collecting minerals, gems, and crystals. Pure minerals are not technically the same thing as rocks, but they fit well in rock collections. Minerals include things like pyrite, also known as fool’s gold, and quartzite, which looks almost like a diamond.
For some people, rock collecting consists of saving a pretty rock from different places they visit and keeping it as a souvenir. If these rocks are large, they can be used to outline the driveway or start a rock garden. If they are small, they can line a windowsill. Label them with a fine point marker if desired. Include the date and location the rock was found.
The souvenir type of rock collecting does not require much scientific investigation, but identifying rocks and minerals do. The different types of rock can sometimes be differentiated easily. For instance, sedimentary rocks often look like particles glued together.
Sandstone is a common example of this. They also sometimes have visible flat layers. Metamorphic rocks, on the other hand, sometimes have layers, but those layers have been bent so that they are no longer laying flat across the rock.
Let’s just take a look at the rock cycle a bit…
Sedimentary rocks are found on the ground, at beaches, and along rivers. They can be collected by hand or shovel. When you collect them from the rock of a cliffside, make sure to use a sturdy bucket with a mesh screen so that small pebbles don’t get stuck in your pockets after digging!
Igneous rocks are found in the form of crystals and minerals. They’re often collected from bare rock, but they can also be scraped off of weathered surfaces like cliffs or sandstone formations.
When rock collecting, the igneous rocks make some of the most exciting finds. Obsidian is an igneous rock that looks like a broken piece of black glass. It is shiny and hard and was used to make arrowheads in the past by the native Americans.
Pumice is another interesting igneous rock that is porous, making it so light that it will float. This stone is used for cleaning and rubbing calluses off people’s feet.
Metamorphic rocks can be found in many different shapes and sizes. They can also come from all sorts of environments such as mountainsides (foliated metamorphics) or along riverbeds (conglomerates).
Gneiss is a foliated metamorphist that can be coarse or fine-grained. It has alternating layers of quartz and feldspar, which produce the striped look to this rock.
The other kind of metamorphic rocks are gneisses that have been heated by an igneous rock to create a metamorphic rock. It has the same alternating layers of quartz and feldspar, but with this one there is no stripe pattern because it was heated by igneous rock (not just the heat from water in the earth).
The other type of foliated metamorphist is called schist. This kind can be coarse or fine-grained, but it is always layered.
Similar to gneisses and schist are the marble varieties that have a distinctive light color because of their high content of calcite (calcium carbonate). Marble has been subjected to heat through contact with igneous rock or in a hot spring environment. It can be coarse or fine-grained.
Keep in mind when rock collecting those different regions of the world have different types of rocks. In the American Midwest, for instance, there are many sedimentary stones, but metamorphic and igneous rocks are less common.
In the Appalachians, on the other hand, you can find metamorphic rocks such as gneiss and schist. Wherever you live, though, you are sure to find rock collecting a hobby that’s hard to resist!
If you are looking for something new and exciting to do with the kids this summer, then rock collecting is just what you need! Rockhounding has been around since people first came out of caves into broad daylight many thousands of years ago. They noticed the interesting colors and shapes in rocks, and became rock collectors themselves!