Posted by: Jacquie Fisher   

Volcanoes, Rocks & Fossils: Books and Activities for Kids

Welcome back to our Summer Science series -- today's science theme is Geology!

This is a favorite area of science for kids for two reasons -- explosions and digging :)

I don't know about your house but in ours, there are rocks & rock collections everywhere! 

I'm not kidding -- on the science table, stacked up near the garden in the backyard, in the dryer (yep, it seems like every week I'm pulling rocks out of someone's pocket). 

What can I say, kids are attracted to rocks.

Since they're going to collect the darn things anyway, why not spin it into some great hands-on learning ;) 

Shhh...don't tell them.


Geology Activities for Kids

Rocks, Fossils & Volcanoes for Kids

Geology is the area of science that studies rocks, fossils and changes in the Earth's physcial structure. I thought we'd focus on 3 areas of geology that kids really enjoy and find interesting -- rocks, volcanoes and fossils. 

For each of these areas, we've pulled together some great books along with affilite links and fun activities so kids can get up close to science!

 

Rock testing for kids - Mohs Scale

Rock Testing Activities & Books

Before you dive into any great books or activities, you'll need to find some rocks ;) 

Head outside and search your backyard, neighborhood or local park for cool stones that peak your child's interest.

Once you get them back home, you might want to find out what types of rocks you collected.  There are a few ways that you can learn how to identify rocks:

Geology.com has a great identification page for a good variety of rocks.

There are a few ways to test a rock.

First, you can try the Acid Test for Rocks which is a quick & fun test you can do at home to see if your rock contains carbonate or calcium, a mineral common in some rock types.

Older kids would enjoy testing the hardness of their rocks using Mohs Scale.

 

Mohs Scale from National Park Service

Chart via National Park Service

The National Park Service has a printable chart you can use that describes Mohs Scale

If you have a metal nail, penny and a piece of glass (we used glass from a mosaic kit), you will be able to determine the approximate hardness of each rock (just explaining to kids that some rocks are harder than others will bring up a whole bunch of questions).

You can then take an online quiz at Mineralology for Kids to learn how to identify your rock or mineral based on luster, hardness, color and more.

 Kids books about rocks

And there are always some great books where you can learn more about rocks:

Let's Go Rock Collecting (Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science. Stage 2) - a great first book about rocks for kids ages 3 - 7 years.  We love using this nonfiction series as it does a wonderful job of explaining detailed science to younger kids. 

A Rock Is Lively is a beautiful look at rocks.  You might think that all rocks are just brown and grey but this book will change your mind.  Read about some of the most beautiful and unique rocks in the world!

Jump into Science: Rocks and Minerals - Kids ages 6 - 10 will enjoy learning how the three main types of rocks are formed, fun facts about how rocks have been used throughout history and a 'recipe' for making your own rock!

And Explore Rocks and Minerals!: 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiements will give kids some fun projects to do with rocks!

Related Activity:  How to Organize a Rock Collection

 

rocks

Inspiration Laboratories has some great hands-on science this week!  Get outside to do some Rock Collecting activities and explore geology at home.

 

Fossil Activities for Kids

Sometimes you find a rock and it's not a rock -- it's a fossil! 

Try these books & activities if you have kids who are intrigued by dinosaur bones --

 

Kids books about Fossils

Fossils Tell of Long Ago (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) is a wonderful book that explains how fossils and old bones help us to learn about history.  Another in the Read-and-Find-Out series, kids ages 3 - 6 years will really enjoy the facts shared in this book.

Monster Bones: The Story of a Dinosaur Fossil (Science Works) is one that I really like because it takes you through the process of how dinosaurs became fossils.  This book has a really concrete way of explaining how fossils form and is great for elementary ages kids.

Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World is the story of how P.T. Barnum discovered (and displayed) the first set of T. Rex bones.  I also love that kids get to know more about a famous paleontologist in this book!

 

Where to Find Fossils

If you want to explore fossils, check out one of the science or natural history museums in your area.  Many will have fossils on display and some will have fun 'practice' dig sites too. 

To find one near you, check this list of Natural History Museums by State for many across the U.S.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has an amazing Virtual Fossil Dig that kids can do online -- they will learn about the various tools involved in unearthing bones and the process needed to get the bones from the ground and into a museum. 

It's also to let the kids dig around in your own backyard -- you never know what types of things you'll find when you look at some of the larger rocks you might have in your garden or at a nearby park.  Many times, plants will leave fossil-type imprints in rocks too.

 create your own dinosaur dig

You can also create your own fossil dig at home!  Try one of these 5 Fun Fossil Digs so kids can discover what's it's like to be a junior paleontologist.

 

Explore Volcanoes

Before we get into volcanoes, I want to warn you -- some younger kids will be scared of this concept. 

Our daughter did not like the idea of volcanoes for years.  When she was younger, she was afraid one might 'grow near us and explode'.  So gauge your child's interest as you discuss this topic.

 

volcanobooks

The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top: A Book About Volcanoes - one of our favorite science book series (and DVD too) is Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus.  There's always some great humor mixed in with fun facts in these stories.  Follow along as the kids and Ms. Frizzle explore a volcano.  This version of the Magic School Bus books is perfect for kids ages 4 - 8 years old.

Older kids (ages 8+) will enjoy the Magic School Bus chapter book series. The Magic School Bus Science Chapter Book #15: Voyage to the Volcano takes a more detailed look at volcanoes and lava as the kids head to Hawaii with Ms. Frizzle.

Another great book that's PACKED with facts and photos is the National Geographic Kids Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes .  Kids will learn quite a bit about volcanoes and earthquakes along with some of the history behind some of the natural disasters that have been caused by both of these geological occurances.

 

Volcano Activities

Volcanoes are a little harder to explore with kids.  You can't just walk down the street to see one ;) 

In fact, most of us will never see an active volcano in our lives.  And yet, volcanoes are a large part of geology as their explosions result in the formation of islands around the world!

One of the best ways to promote hands-on learning for a subject like this is to use a science kit to explore volcanoes. 

And if you're lucky enough to live near a dormant or active volcano, by all means -- take a field trip!!

Older kids will also enjoy the Discover Kids Volcano Explorer website where they can learn more about volcanoes, build their own virtual volcano and watch it explore.

So this summer, instead of saying "Put that rock down", pick it up and bring it home for some fun with geology!

 

Summer Science for Kids

 

June 25th -- {Biology}

Books & Websites that explore Plants, Animals & the Human Body

Backyard Earthworm Experiments

 

July 2nd -- {Geology}

The Science of Rocks, Fossils and Volcanoes

Become a Rock Collector

Digging for Dinosaurs -- Learn to be a Paleontologist

 

July 9th -- {Astronomy}

Explore the Night Sky - Marshmallow Constellations

The Earth, Moon & Sun

Books about Space

Solar System Activities for Kids

 

July 16th -- {Physics}

Fantastic Forces & Water Rockets

Exploring Color and Temperature

Does your Food Sink or Float?

 

July 23rd -- {Chemistry}

Create Your Own Wizard's Lab

Make a Cup Cake (Chemistry of Baking)

Blowing Up Balloons/Blowing Out Candles

 

July 30th -- {Ecology}

Kids Activities that Explore Ecology

A Lesson about Food Chains

Learning about Biomes

Create an Under the Sea World: Exploring Ocean Zones

 

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