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Hobbies for Kids - Rock Collecting

 

Collecting is  a very broad and popular topic for hobbies and it is a very easy one for young children to pursue.  Collecting can include: coins, stamps, rocks, dolls, baseball cards, action figures, post cards, comic books, dolls. Barbie dolls, sea shells, rocks, military paraphernalia, movie and/or sports memorabilia and more.  A collection is a great way to learn about people, places and things.

Rock collecting can be an interesting, and educational hobby.  Rock collecting is the ideal hobby for children because you can find rocks anywhere and they are completely free.  In fact, you can begin collecting rocks right outside your front door.  Your collection can eventually grow to include rocks and minerals from other places. Your kids will find it entertaining to look for pretty rocks and will enjoy examining the rock's appearance, shape, and weight.  Studying the rocks collected is a great way to learn about the earth.  There are an abundance of books on this subject to help with research.

How to Begin...

It is easy to get started in collecting rocks. You really do not need a lot of equipment to start this hobby.  The first thing to purchase is a magnifying glass to get a closer look at the specimen.  You should also buy a few Rock and Mineral book that offers photos and descriptions to help you classify your rocks.  A medium size brush to dust off your rocks.

When you do find rocks that interest you, it's important to label them so Ziploc storage bags will come in handy to store your treasures. You should put each rock into a separate plastic bag and label it with the date and location where it was found..  You will also need a study tote bag or backpack to carry your rocks home. A geologist's hammer comes in handy when it is necessary to chip or free rocks like when exploring natural rock formations like caves.  Carry a pen and notebook to record what you found and where. Safety goggles are always a good item to have as well.  There are websites that sell beginner kits that include all of these items and more for around $75.

Decide what size stones you want to collect. They shouldn’t be too big because of storage space and they shouldn’t be too small because you need to see their features. Clean your stones using the brush or gently wash in soapy water and let dry for a few hours.

You can keep your collection in a small box divided by cardboard, a shelf, an egg carton lined with cotton, clear jars, or a shadow box. In the beginning you may want to organize your collection based on color, type of rock or mineral, or the location where it was found. As your interests evolve and your collection grows you will learn to identify based on crystal, shape, hardness, color and luster.
 

If you want to give your child a jump start to get their interests going consider purchasing a small collection. You will find them on the internet and they range from inexpensive beginner's sets to very expensive sets with rarer rocks.
 

Where to Look

 

Every natural setting has rocks that is what makes this such a great hobby.  Great places to look include:

  • quarries

  • hills

  • mountains

  • caves

  • roads

  • parks

  • streams

  • lakes

  • ponds

  • beaches

  • rivers

Travel is also a great place to find rocks that are not available in the area where you live.  Just think what you could find in Sedona, AZ or the big island of Hawaii.  Remember that the best place to find rocks is a location where water, wind, weather or digging has disturbed the rocks

Types of Rocks

It is important to understand the different types of rocks if you intend to collect them as a hobby. There are three different types of rock that make up the earth: igneous rock, sedimentary rock and metamorphic rock.

  • Igneous rock is formed by intense heat such as volcanic activity. These rocks include obsidian, granite, and basalt.

  • Sedimentary rock occurs when layers of dirt, sand, shells, plant matter, or other material settles on top of one another and become compressed and hard over time. These rocks include limestone, coal, and shale.

  • Metamorphic rock occurs when there is a combination of heat and pressure. Examples of this form of rock include diamonds, marble, and quartzite.


The combination approach, meaning buying as well as finding rocks, is a good way to enhance
your collection.  Some sources to investigate are listed below:

  • Rock and Gem Dealers

  • Collectors Clubs

  • Rock and Gem Shows

  • Internet Dealers

  • Auctions

  • Flea Markets

  • Antique Shops

  • Mall Craft Exhibits

Remember the slogan "Buyer Beware"; be sure to use caution and common sense when purchasing your rocks.  Do your homework and check prices in shops, mail-order ads and on other Web sites in advance before making your purchase.

Helpful Links:  

Kids Collecting from Smithsonian

Rock Hound

Neill’s Geology for Kids

Rocks and Minerals

ThinkQuest Rock Collecting