I did a crazy thing and rounded up a co-op. It’s a post for another day, but it is completely out of my comfort zone. A little fact about me, I have severe social anxiety. But I would also love to be a teacher one day, so this kind of thing SHOULD be right up my alley.
The problem is, I never know what to plan to get all the kids engaged. If you also have this problem, plan something with geology, because there isn’t a kid out there who doesn’t love rocks.
Luckily for me, I just created a geology interactive notebook for my shop, so it was a little refresher from my geology days in college (that one geology class I took for my associates). I didn’t take a lot of pictures unfortunately, and the ones I did have other people’s children in them. So I will not be posting them. I even had to cut out their adorable faces just to get the one photo above for their privacy. I was nervous, this was the first meeting that I handled a little more like a class, and a little less like a get together. I’ll be sure to snag more photos in the future!
Obviously, for a unit on rocks, you’re gonna need rocks. There are tons of kits you can buy with lots of rock and mineral samples. Luckily for me, my daughter had an awesome rock collection and my father is a huge rock nut as well, so I had a ton of samples to share with everyone.
Make sure you have at least 1-2 samples from the three main rock groups: igneous (“that’s from a VOLCANO?!”), metamorphic, and sedimentary. Some other basics I would recommend are any fossils you can get your hands on, a geode, quartz, pyrite (fool’s gold), limestone (for an activity later), and halite (salt). There are no right or wrong rocks to show the kids. Except maybe the little polished stones you find in places like The Smokies. They’re pretty, but they’re not as fun to study as the dirty kind.
For the acid test you need two cups, one filled with water and one with vinegar. First, drop a piece of limestone into the cup of water, showing no reaction. Then, drop it into the vinegar and watch the bubbles take off. They will love seeing the reaction.
Identify a Rock
I had rocks in a container of sand ready to go when they got there. Each student dug out a rock, and brought it back to their table. I had a rock identification test ready where we talked about things like luster, hardness, streak, cleavage, and more. Not to name drop again, but in my Geology Interactive Notebook, there is the sheet we used to identify our rocks. They also drew a picture of their rock and wrote what they thought it was. They had such a good time with this part and loved seeing how different their rocks could be.
Rock hardness is determined by Moh’s Scale. In my opinion, my group was a little too young to care about the exact number on the scale, so we just discussed rock hardness a little. I explained that if a rock could scratch another rock, it was harder than the others. And if a rock got scratched by another rock, it was softer. All they had to determine was if their rock was hard or soft-ish. They liked this too, and liked seeing what they could scratch their rocks with.
Study the Rocks
By this point, I had talked their ear off about rocks and had done several guided activities. They spent the last 20-30 minutes of the class just playing with the rocks. PLEASE ALLOW TIME FOR THIS. I made sure to have magnifying glasses ready and a small UV light so they could study it further. They were so engaged and had no problems asking questions about the rocks. They were showing each other the ones they thought were cool, and it was probably the best part of the class. I loved seeing their curiosity.
My co-op averages kids from grade level K-3, and I really feel as though they were all able to enjoy this. There is nothing like being that young and being able to get excited about something like a cool rock. This is great for any science unit, great for a first class to help break the ice among the kids, great for a public classroom or a homeschool classroom.