Use this free printable to create a rock collection container from a simple egg carton and get ideas for over 20 fun learning activities with rocks.
Are you looking for some fun, easy, and inexpensive science learning activities for your kids? These activities with rocks are your answer. Let me show you how you and your kids can create a rock collection AND then I’ll give you LOTS of ideas for putting those rocks to work in fun learning activities.
Kids Love to Collect Things
Do your kids like to collect things? When my son was little I used to randomly find things when I unloaded the washer and dryer. Little things that he had stashed in his pockets fell out during the laundry cycles. I often found treasures like rocks, little dinosaurs, and crayons. Okay….so the melted crayons were not fun, but I kind of enjoyed finding the other treasures.
Kids love to collect treasures. That’s why they love these rock collection activities.
A Container for Rock Collecting
Use my free printable to transform an ordinary egg carton into a cool rock collection container. The printable is part of my Geology Lab Dramatic Play set, but you can get it free at the end of this article.
Print the covers, cut, cut them out on the dotted lines, and attach them to the egg cartons with a little glue or tape. Tada….you are ready to create a rock collection.
I think that going out and finding rocks is a fun activity and I bet your kids will too. Fancy rocks are not required at all….so this is a super inexpensive activity.
Who doesn’t love free learning materials?
Where can your kids find rocks?
- In their backyard: If none are visible, give them a trowel and challenge them to start digging.
- In their neighborhood: Kids can go on a rock hunt to find some.
- On the playground or at the park.
- By water: (beach, riverbed, creekbed). Of course, they should be thoroughly supervised while searching.
Now that your kids have filled their collection box with their favorite rocks…the fun and learning can begin. Here are some ideas.
Examine the Rocks
Rocks can be pretty interesting when you examine them….and there are many different ways to examine them.
Wash the Rocks
If you collected the rocks in nature, they probably need to be washed. If they are already clean, kids will definitely have fun cleaning them again.
Fill a container with water and provide some soap and a toothbrush. You can also provide a spray bottle filled with water for some extra fine motor practice.
- What happened when the rock got wet?
- How do the rocks look different after they have been cleaned?
Examine the Appearance
Pick out a rock and really look at it. Use a magnifying glass or a loupe if you have one….but you don’t need one.
Things to Talk About
- color (Is there one color? more than one color?)
- shape (Is it round, pointy, dog-shape…..?)
- luster (Is it dull, shiny, sparkly, etc.?)
- size and weight
Test Those Examination Skills: Place the rock that you just examined into a bowl with several rocks. Mix them all up. Can you find the original rock? How can you tell that it’s the right one?
Document the Appearance
Kids can trace the rock, create a rock rubbing, or draw a picture of the rock in a science notebook (blank book).
Examine the Texture
Use the Sense of Touch: Place 3-5 rocks with varying textures inside a pillowcase, a soft bag, or in a sock. Let your kids take turns reaching inside to feel the different rocks. NO PEEKING! Talk about how they each feel different. Are they rough, smooth, round, bumpy, pointy?
Test Those Examination Skills…Advanced Edition: Remember that special rock that you examined above? Add that to the bag. Can your kids find it with their sense of touch?
Additional ways to examine the textures:
- Press rocks into a blog of playdough or clay to see what kind of print they leave when you pull them out.
- Trace each rock
- Place paper over the rock and make a crayon rubbing
Math Activities with Rocks
A rock collection also serves as a great tool to work on early math skills. Here are a few counting activity ideas.
One-to-one Correspondence: Young kids can count as they place a rock in each section of their egg container.
Counting: Kids can place all of the rocks in a pile and then count them.
Counting Groups: Divide the rocks into two uneven groups. Kids can count each group and determine which has more rocks and which has fewer.
Making Groups: Ask kids to make two groups of rocks with the same number in each. Then, they can make 3 groups or 4 groups with equal quantities.
Counting Game: Print a number on the inside of each section of the egg carton. Take all of the rocks out of the egg carton and place a pom-pom inside the carton.
Shake the pom-pom around, and then open the egg carton to see which section it lands in. Count out that number of rocks.
Continue shaking the pom-pom and counting rocks.
Dice Game: Add numbers to the bottom of each section of the egg carton. Roll a pair of dice. You may either add the dice together and place a rock in the corresponding section, or you may look at each die individually and place rocks in each corresponding section.
For example….Let’s say you roll a 5 and a 6. You can place a rock in the #11 section, or you can place a rock in both #5 and #6. Continue playing until you have filled all the sections with rocks.
You can play this individually or by taking turns with multiple players (with multiple rock collection boxes)
Sorting Activities with Rocks
There are many ways to sort the rocks in a collection and kids may enjoy trying to discover new methods of sorting.
Sort by Size: Sorting by size can generate some great discussions about how to sort the rocks by size. Do you use weight/mass? Do you sort by the length? How do you determine the length?
Sort by Color: Let kids decide how many color categories they should make.
Sorting by Additional Attributes:
- have crystals vs. don’t have crystals
- round vs. not round
- rolls down a ramp vs. doesn’t roll down a ramp
- makes a mark on the sidewalk vs. doesn’t make a mark on the sidewalk
Challenge your kids to think of additional ways that they can sort their rocks.
Get the Free Printable
Well, I hope that I inspired you to try out some learning activities with rocks. Are you ready to create a rock collection container so that your kids can put their treasure collecting skills to work? Click on the button below and I’ll send the printable and activity directions to your inbox.
Purchase the Geology Dramatic Play Resource
Want to get the complete set of printables to create a Geology Lab in your dramatic play area? Click on the image below to check out the resource in my store.