My sister bought my kids a National Geographic Geode Breaking Kit for the holidays last year, and they have been obsessed with learning about rocks and minerals ever since! In this rocks and minerals lesson plan, we will do tons of fun gem, crystal and geology STEM projects like making DIY Rock Candy, eggshell geode crystals, cupcake core sampling and chocolate chip cookie mining! Plus, we put together an excellent collection of free worksheets all about rocks and minerals, to practice math, reading and writing. There are even recipes for “bucket of gems brownie cupcakes,” making agate crystals out of hard candy and the most incredible DIY crystal and geode art project.
🧪 Rocks & Minerals STEM Science Experiments for Kids
There are tons of great dino science experiments to choose from!
- Any excuse to expose our kids to the periodic table of elements makes me excited! If you have not made the free Periodic Table of Elements Battleship Game from this Chemistry for Kids Lesson Plan, then you absolutely must! Here is also a kid-friendly website where you can click on an element to read about the benefits, sources, description and history of each element.
- A STEM activity that my kids loved was this National Geographic Geodes kit. You get to actually break open your own geodes to find amazing crystals inside (the color of each one is a fun surprise!). You definitely want to do this outside or over a bunch of newspaper though, because it will make a mess!
- Make your own Rock Candy! Your kids will love this experiment!
- If candy is not your thing, then how about eggshell geode crystals like this?!
- The U.S. Geological Survey has a fantastic series of hands-on STEM activities related to geology, plate tectonics and mineral resources, including the following. Just scroll through this pdf to page 13:
- Orange Peel Plate Tectonics
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Geology
- Cupcake Core Sampling
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Mining
- Extracting Metal (copper) from a Rock
- Mineral Talc or “Rocks on Your Face”
- Make Your Own DIY Toothpaste
- Mineral Flash Cards
- Look at this printable chart from the American Geosciences Institute to learn about the differences between sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks and igneous rocks. You may want to read this website first, which explains about the rock cycle and how those three types of rock families are formed.
- Want to play Jeopardy instead? Here is a free printable Jeopardy game that is all about rocks, minerals and soil science.
🥣 Gem & Agate Crystal Recipes
I love to incorporate recipes and fun food ideas into lesson plans! I love these adorable “bucket of gems brownie cupcakes” made with Rock Candy! Or you can make your own agates out of hard candies (I’m looking at you, Jolly Ranchers) here!
📚 Rocks, Minerals & Mining Reading Material
Take your pick from these free rock and mineral worksheets and reading materials!
- Kindergarten – 2nd Grades:
- Read all about birthstones, the history of gemstones and jewelry with GemKids, a great website put together by the GIA.
- National Geographic also has a fun lesson to explore semi-precious stones and gems, and the old-school myths behind them.
- Read this free digital book called Birthstones and Flowers.
- Learn all about mining with this website from the Minerals Education Coalition.
- 3rd – 5th Grades:
- Smithsonian Education has a great website about minerals, crystals and gems here.
- There are tons of fantastic articles about earth science, geology, gems and rocks. Here are some great choices.
- “Rolled-Up Mystery Mineral may cause Craving for Piroulines” by Smithsonian Insider
- “Bombarded with Ultraviolet Light, the Blue Hope Diamond Glows Red” by the Smithsonian Insider
- “Surreal Photos Reveal the Otherworldly Insides of Gemstones” by Smithsonian Magazine
- “Gems and Minerals – Beauties and Building Blocks” by the National Museum of Natural History
- “Harding Pegmatite Mine, New Mexico” by Advancing Earth and Space Science
- “Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection acquires a yellow fluorite from Tanzania” by Smithsonian Insider
- Read about the connection between items you use every day and the raw materials they use from the earth, in this article from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, NJ! Mining and quarrying provide ingredients for many items that we use daily.
- Another optional reading, also from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, is this piece on reducing our dependence on mining and the effect of mining on our environment.
✏ Rocks & Minerals Free Writing Worksheets
- Kindergarten – 2nd Grade:
- 3rd – 5th Grade:
- Rocks & Minerals Writing Prompt (fiction) – Pick a rock or mineral and write a story from it’s point of view. How was it “born” (or formed)? How is life as a rock? What does it “see” or “experience”?
- Rocks & Minerals Writing Prompt (non-fiction) – Write about your favorite article from the geology articles in the reading section above. What did you find interesting about it? Alternatively, write about mining! What are the pros and cons of mining? What are your thoughts about mining?
🧮 GEMS: Rocks & Minerals Math Worksheets
- Kindergarten – 2nd Grades:
- 3rd – 5th Grades:
🖌 DIY Crystal & Geode Crafts
- A super fun rock and mineral project is to do this salt crystal painting.
- You can also learn how to draw crystals here.
- Another easy art project is to learn how to draw a diamond!
- For our older kids (or super motivated and talented younger kids!) here is a really gorgeous crystal painting project.
And the most fun part… share a photo or video of your geology, rock, gem and mineral science experiments, your crystal art projects, or any of your other fun activities on Facebook! Make sure to include a link to this website or to our Facebook Group and Facebook Page, so that we can see it too! I’ve purposefully added a lot of options for parents who need to keep their kiddos occupied for more time and to allow you to cater to your children’s preferences.