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Teaching the “Hard” Nature Study Subjects—Rocks


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.

rock collecting on a hike

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?

rock collection quartz

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.

granite up close rock collection

¨ 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.

rock collection in jars

¨ 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.

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Study Marble Calcite Limestone @handbookofnaturestudy

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.