An introduction to geology with rock cycle activities for middle and high school. This is a great homeschool nature study and a simple way to explore rocks as a nature study in your own backyard!
Rock Study of Granite and Other Igneous Rocks
Note To the Parent: There is a lot of great information in this study, far more than can be covered in a week. Use this study as an introduction to geology as it relates to nature study in your own backyard or neighborhood. Read the information in the Handbook of Nature Study and share any facts or ideas with your child that make sense to you. Keep it simple.
Rock Cycle Activities, Nature Study Lesson Plans andInside Prep Work For Your Homeschool:
Read the Handbook of Nature Study pages 743-750 (Introduction to Rocks and Minerals and Lessons 209—210).
For this challenge, concentrate on Lesson 209– Granite. You can also observe other igneous rocks: basalt, obsidian, and pumice.
View the images and the videos in the Additional Links section below.
Go exploring for rocks. Bring along a collecting box or bag and see if you can find some rocks, particularly granite or other igneous rocks. Remember what you read in the Handbook of Nature Study and the images you viewed in your preparation.
Collect some samples to bring inside to look at closely. Make sure to take a photo for your Rock Photo Scavenger Hunt notebook page.
Follow-Up Rock Cycle Activities For Your Homeschool:
Choose one of the rocks you collected outdoors and look at it closely using a hand lens. If you collected some granite, can you distinguish the various components? Record your observations in your nature journal.
Advanced study: Diagram and describe the rock cycle in your nature journal.
Advanced study: Use your observation skills and record your information in your nature journal. Use a rock identification key to identify your igneous rock.
“Different substances when dissolved in water will reform as crystals; each substance forms crystals of its own peculiar color and shape.”
Handbook of Nature Study, Lesson 211
This is a fantastic hands-on study that your children will love doing with you! By viewing the links at the end of the original challenge and gathering simple supplies, you can grow a variety of crystals to observe and compare.
If you have access to the Winter Nature Study Continues ebook, there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.
To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.
You can use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.
You can use a crystal growing kit to supplement your crystal nature study. My boys used one similar to the one linked below when they were in middle school and it was a huge hit as far as the interest in how crystals form and grow. Please note the link below is an Amazon affiliate link to a product I recommend.
The Handbook of Nature Study and the Outdoor Hour Challenge has been nominated for the Practical Homeschooling Reader Awards! If you’d like to cast your votes for the best homeschooling products you can click over here: Practical Homeschooling Reader’s Awards.
This week, using the links in the challenge, you’ll be introduced to feldspar. This isn’t a common nature study topic, but feldspar is a rather common rock-forming mineral that we can learn a little about using the Handbook of Nature Study.
You may decide this is a study that perhaps your older or more advanced students may wish to complete. If you have younger students or don’t have a specimen of feldspar to observe, see the alternate activity linked below for a more general rock nature study.
Here’s a quick overview of feldspar:
Feldspar, which means field stone, names a group of minerals that are much alike.
Feldspar is always a part of granite and other igneous rocks.
The most common colors are white or gray, pale pink or pale yellow, but feldspar may also be olive green or brown.
All feldspars are made of aluminum, silicon and oxygen.
I would love for you to be encouraged in your rock study by this entry I wrote a few months ago: Teaching the “Hard” Nature Study Subjects – Rock Study. In my experience, I find this to be one of the more challenging nature subjects. But, the ability to take it slow and learn alongside your children can make this less intimidating.
If you have access to the Winter Nature Study Continues ebook, there is a notebook page for you to print and use for your nature journal.
Alternate Study: Here’s an alternate to the feldspar study linked in the Outdoor Hour Challenge this week. If you click over to the Rock Study Grid activity, you can print a notebook page activity to use with other rocks you may already have in your collection.
To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, you can click on over to the Join Us page at any time.
You can use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.
During July 2012, our family took a trip to the Oregon Coast. We spent quite a bit of time just beachcombing for shells and rocks. I ended up with a collection that I wanted to record in my nature journal.
Rocks in general are a difficult subject to draw. I decided that the colorful rocks were much easier and that using a black pen to first outline the shape was helpful.
Recording rocks in your nature journal requires you to slow down and really examine the rock, noting its colors, shape, and texture.
I find it’s much easier to collect a few rocks and then bring them home for sketching. I have a stash of snack size Ziplocs in my nature box that I recycle from trip to trip. You can also use empty Tic-Tac or Altoid containers if you have a supply of those. We did use film canisters in the past but now that’s sort of outdated.
Sometimes you find a rock you want to draw in your nature journal but you cannot bring a sample home…like if you’re at a National Park or on private property. In that case, I take a few close-up images of the rock with my camera. Then I either use the image to draw the rock into my journal or I can just print out the image and put that in my journal.
I love looking back on these rock nature journal pages now and remembering not only the rocks but the experience of collecting them on a particular day.
Take the opportunity to create a few rock themed nature journal pages as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge for Calcite, Limestone, and Marble (make a link) from last week. Click over and read how to get started.
Rock Study: Calcite, Limestone, Marble Nature Study
Most families that have been taking time for nature study have no doubt started an official or unofficial rock collection. I know when my boys were young, they would fill my pockets with rock treasures on our nature walks and then insist I take them home for our nature table. So many rocks!
Use this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge to learn a bit about rocks that you may already have in your collection. Or use the information and videos in the original challenge to build enthusiasm for a rock hunt soon.
If you have access to the ebook, there is a general rock activity on page 39 that everyone can use: Rocks Up Close printable. Take this notebook page along with you this week during your Outdoor Hour Challenge and see how many things you can find.
Newsletter Resources: Members also have access to the two newsletters in the archives that feature rock nature studies: January 2013 and February 2016.
Alternate Study: Members can download and print the Under a Rock Notebook Page. Find a rock, turn it over and then observe what you can find underneath. This is a fun activity with or without the notebook page.
If you don’t have a membership yet, click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 26 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!
To many of us, a desire to learn about rocks does not come naturally. Rocks can seem ordinary and we don’t take time to really notice them.
Possible Reasons for Lack of Interest in Rocks
¨ Little interest in rocks because they seem commonplace
¨ Limited knowledge about rocks and how to identify them
¨ Lack of physical subjects to examine
We stub our toe on them when hiking and we work hard at digging them out of our gardens, generally they just seem to be in the way. But, upon closer examination, those same rocks we see as annoyances can become an interesting topic for a lifelong nature study interest. Collecting rocks and minerals as we go about our normal business and when we travel can become a source of awe and wonder at their beauty and structure. So how do we go about offering a “hard” study like rocks and minerals?
How to Overcome the Obstacles
¨ Develop interest over time – Use all of your available resources to make rocks more interesting. Does your child find volcanoes fascinating? Did they find some cool rocks on their nature walk? Have they looked at rocks with a magnifying lens? Do they want to make jewelry with rocks? Find ways to pull in lots of different ways of learning about rocks.
¨ Build Up Knowledge – Kids like to be armed with facts so a field guide or books from the library on rock topics can be a source of fueling a new interest in the topic. Finding a mentor in your local community that collects rocks or visiting a rock and gem show can be a huge help in generating a spark of interest in rocks and rock collecting.
¨ Start a Collection – A rock collection that contains both rocks from your nature walks and rocks you perhaps purchase from nature shops while on field trips or vacations will over time give your family a great reference tool. Keep track of where you find or purchase the rocks with labels either on the rock or in a boxed collection.
Look for the upcoming Outdoor Hour Challenge for calcite, limestone, and marble. Remember the thoughts above when you read through the challenge and see if you can find a way to make the study interesting and fun for your family.
This week is a great indoor nature study opportunity if you’re experiencing some winter weather like we are in Central Oregon. After reading the lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study, use the links in the original challenge to learn even more about mica.
If you don’t have mica to observe, you can do an alternate rock study for any rock you may have on hand. Use a field guide or a book from the library to learn more about your rock. Look in your Member’s library for an abundance of rock study alternative ideas like printables, notebook pages, and newsletters.
This challenge is found in the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook found in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships here on the Handbook of Nature Study. You can print the notebooking pages and the coloring page included in the ebook to supplement your nature study this week.
If you don’t have a membership yet, you can click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 23 ebooks and so much more!
Now available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships:
Rock Set #1 Notebooking Pages
Rock Set #1 Notebook Pages: This set of five new notebooking pages for your nature journal is perfect for recording your research notes and sketches for each rock. Topics included: Pyrite, obsidian, coal, hematite, and chalk.
(See the end of this post for more information on how you can become a member.)
Note: If you have any subjects you would like me to create nature notebook pages for, please let me know in a comment here on the blog or in an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Print a complete list of printables available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships by clicking the button above.
Use the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership!
This is an amazing place to visit if you’re ever in the Bend, Oregon area. We had a free day when our daughter was visiting from New York and we were searching for a place to do some day hiking. Smith Rock State Park isn’t far from our new house so we packed up some lunches and water and set off fairly early on a Saturday morning. The weather was sunny and warm so lots of other people had the same idea of getting outside to enjoy the day.
The parking lot was nearly full but we did manage to score a slot in the grassy area. There is a day use fee of $5 that you can pay at the self-serve station in the parking area.
We visited the information center before choosing our hike. We were hoping to find a trail that took us along the river and where we could get a good look at the canyon. The ranger showed us just the right trail! You can check out the brochure before visiting: Climbing and Trail Guide.
Not only did we hike down to the river and then alongside it, we were able to see a lot of people rock climbing just off the path. According to the website and brochure, there are over 1,000 climbing routes at Smith Rock. We observed people of all ages climbing up the steep rocks using ropes. I’m not at all interested in rock climbing but it was a treat to stop a few times and watch the truly amazing things people can accomplish as they spider their way up the rocks.
I love wildflowers and now that we are in our new habitat, I can start learning about the flowers that are found here. The flower above is Lewis flax. Isn’t it an amazing color? Since spying this at Smith Rock, I realized there is a patch just around the corner from my house so I’ve been better able to study it up close since this initial discovery.
It was actually quite warm in the sun as we hiked but the sound of water in the river made it much more bearable. Our dog took several opportunities to jump in and swim to cool off.
We had a picnic sitting on a rock when we found a viewpoint about a mile and a half down the trail. We watched a duck pair and their babies as they paddled in a small eddy along the river. Earlier we were able to get a good look at an eagle, its nest and its baby. There was a ranger with a spotting scope that shared this incredible sight with us. He was there all day…we know because we saw him on the way in and then on our way back. What a great opportunity for so many hikers to see the eagles thanks to this patient ranger.
We all declared this a fantastic hike and we look forward to doing it again soon! My daughter even said it’s in her top favorite places to hike now, which made me so glad that we made the effort to get out and do this hike together.
I love living in Oregon!
You can read more about our Oregon State Park adventures in this entry:
1. Spring Walk Notebook Page – This is an easy page to complete after a spring walk. Use the prompts to help you record all of the special things you observe.
2. Rock Photo Hunt – As part of your March 2017 newsletter activities, you can print this list of rock related photo ideas to help inspire some enthusiasm for a rock hunt.
Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section. You can download a complete list of printables available to members here: