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Rock Study: Calcite, Limestone, Marble Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

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!

rock collection in jars
I must admit that I still collect rocks! You may wish to read this entry that shares 5 ways to organize rock collections: 5 Ways to Display Rock Collections.

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.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Study Marble Calcite Limestone @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Calcite, Limestone, Marble.

Rock Study Up close Notebook page

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.

Under a Rock Notebook Page

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.

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image

Sample to view: Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study 2015 Sample Pages

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!

Topics in this ebook include:

  • Swallows and swifts
  • Catfish
  • Jewelweed
  • Prickly lettuce
  • Cockroach
  • Field horsetail
  • Catbird
  • Calcite, limestone, marble
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Hedgehog fungi
  • Sapsucker
  • Brooks

  Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020



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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Calcite, Limestone, and Marble

Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Study Marble Calcite Limestone @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Rock Study- Calcite, Marble, and Limestone

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 748-750 (Lesson #210) in the Handbook of Nature Study.  Make sure to highlight some of the main points to share with your child.
  • If you have samples of limestone, marble, and/or chalk, have those on your nature table during the week of your study.
  • Additional information: calcite, limestone, and marble.
  • Videos: Simple limestone video and excellent detailed video about calcium carbonate.
  • Advanced study: Limestone is sedimentary and marble is metamorphic. Research how they both are formed and create a nature journal page recording your information.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • There are a couple of ways of handling this nature study topic. The first is to research ahead of time a place in your local area that has limestone or marble to look at in its natural state. The second is to have on hand some samples of these rocks for your family to observe up close.
  • Go on a rock hunt with your kids! Take your outdoor time this week and go exploring for rocks. Use the Rock Activity page in this ebook for additional observations.
  • There are many places in the United States that have limestone caves. Plan a trip to visit one in the near future. Mammoth Cave National Park and Carlsbad Caverns  National Park both feature limestone caves!
  • Are there buildings in your town built of limestone? This may be an interesting way to learn about the usefulness of limestone.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Follow up your outdoor time with a simple nature journal page where you write a detailed description of a rock. This can be any rock your child finds during their nature walk.
  • Advanced study: Research limestone caves, stalactites, stalagmites, and sink holes. (This is question #6 in the lesson.)

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library
If you want to purchase the Autumn Nature Study 2015 ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Autumn Nature Study 2015 announcement page for more details.

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image


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Spring Wildflowers-Part 8 Natural Bridge

We had the opportunity to take a drive to a new hiking spot. We live in a pretty special area of California and we can drive an hour or so and find the best adventures. We live in what people affectionately call Gold Country……our house is about 8 miles from where they discovered gold in California and the Gold Rush began.

This time though, we headed about fifty miles south of our house to a place in Calaveras County where there is a natural rock bridge over the river. This well-kept secret location was shared with me by a fellow homeschooler. I tried to Google it and came up with very vague directions but we were determined to try to find this spot.

During that Google search, I found this wonderful account of the place from 1862, complete with illustrations.
Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California

Back to the wildflowers…..

We finally found the parking area for the trail and we filled the backpack up with water and a few snacks. Immediately I knew this was going to be a great wildflower hike because the first stretch bordered a little meadow with this view. Purple/blue flowers are Harvest brodiaea. (click to see the flowers better)

Here is the trail as it cuts across a fairly steep section of the hillside. The trail is the dirt path on the top right of the photo. Do you see my boys on the trail? They left us in the dust in a hurry to see the destination. We could hear the river rushing down below but instead of hurrying, my husband and I took our time and also a few photographs. Well, maybe a lot of photos!

It was a fairly easy three quarters of a mile hike down the hillside to the water and along the way it wound through buckeye, red bud, and oaks. On each sunny hillside, we found an abundance of wildflowers. Breathtaking beauty like this doesn’t come along everyday and we found ourselves marveling at the vivid colors of the flowers. It is at times like these that you feel impelled to stop and say a little prayer of thanks to our loving Creator….what a garden he has made for us to enjoy.

Purple Chinese Houses

Poppies and Goldfields

Once down to the bottom of the ravine, we found what we had come to see….the natural bridge which looked more like a cave or a tunnel.

The boys decided to wade out into the middle of the mouth of the tunnel and see if they could see the light at the other end. The water was really cold and they moved rather quickly through the shallow water.

It is nearly impossible to give you a really good idea of what the natural bridge is like but this photo shows you a little of the stalactite formations on the ceiling of the bridge. There was water raining down inside and in one area it looked like a cascading waterfall inside.

Here is a close-up of the ceiling showing the stalactite formations. All those lessons in geology paid off and we had some great conversation about how we think this bridge was formed. We talked about limestone and calcium carbonate and springs. We talked about erosion and ground water and water tables. We talked about the difference between stalactites and stalagmites.

We made plans to come back this summer with a headlamp and perhaps a little inflatable raft.

My husband and I had a very relaxing time at the river and the boys had fun exploring the limestone/marble pools and trying to jump across the watery stretches. They were already wet from wading in the tunnel so a little more water fun was okay by me.

Here is another pretty flower we found as we hiked back up the trail. I don’t know what it is called yet but I am going to keep on working on identifying it.

Here is one that was blooming along one whole section of the trail. Mustang clover.

Isn’t this the best photo? I love how it shows the shape of the plant growing. I am pretty sure this is Caterpillar scorpionweed….what a name!

This is a white variety of lupine growing at the parking spot.

Okay….this one makes me laugh. It is called Pineapple weed. The description says that this plant is not a native plant to California but I see it just about everywhere right now.

I know….how many wildflowers can I cram into this one post? Believe me, there are plenty more but they will have to wait for another time.

I hope you enjoyed viewing some glimpses into our day. I started this post on Monday….we have had some new adventures since this one and I can’t wait to share those too.