Rock hunting is a great way to engage kids in the outdoors. Give them a mission, like hunting for rocks, and watch them connect with nature. Here are a few tips to make the mission a hit with younger kids:
Erosion is your friend
When you’re brainstorming hunting grounds, make it easy on yourself and find a nearby water source to hunt around. Water is one of nature’s most powerful erosion forces (wind would be another one). If you live near a creek, lake, river, the ocean, put them on your list of places to hunt for rocks as the water will have uncovered some choice specimens for you. More minerals will be on the surface and make for easy pickins’. Before you head for a nearby beach, check the tide tables to see if there is a low tide coming soon. Low tides are not only great for exploring tide pools, they also uncover a buffet of choice rocks.
It’s all about the tools. What do kids want to be? Adults. Why? Because adults get to use tools. Hit the dollar store and you’ll find everything you need to get them excited for the hunt.
- A plastic caddy with different sections to put the tools in.
- Paint brushes: Just like archaeologists use, paint brushes can be used to sweep away dirt or sand from a rock to see it better before digging it up.
- Popsicle sticks: These are great for digging out surface rocks that are partially buried.
- Screwdrivers: If your kids are a little older, and you’re comfortable with it, screwdrivers are a secret rock hounding tool. Almost everyone has them and they are great for loosening rocks.
- Sieve: Great for at the beach, where you want to filter out small particles and keep smaller rocks to sift through.
- Plastic beach tools like small rakes and scoops
Set a limit
If you don’t want to go home with a bucket full of rocks, talk to your kids before you leave for your excursion about how fun it will be to find all these rocks, but then after they are done, they get to pick 5 rocks to take home (or however many you are comfortable with). The cool thing about this technique is that they get to fill their bucket as much as they want, and then they get to go back through the rocks they found to pick their favorites. It gives them another chance to experience the joy.
I hope these tips are helpful! If you have tips to share, please drop them in the comments.