Monday, January 31, 2011

Review : Explore Rocks and Minerals - 25 Great Projects, Activites and Experiments

To enter your name in the drawing for the book,
leave a comment here.

This book has an age recommendation of 1st-4th grade. I say "If you say so."
But it is completely possible (and likely, even) that it's just that the way the book is written is at odds with the way I process and think.
Most of the time we can take on books like this at a pretty early age. This one leaves me feeling like I'm trying to keep it all straight and trying to sort it out.

Here's what I think: the language is much like "textbook" language. It feels to me like it's trying to get a lot of information inside your head at one time. The language is somewhat natural, but often the children and I were left with feelings of "huh?".

I don't think the book is terrible - not at all. I just think the age range should be something like 3rd grade (if one is interested in geology) to... um.... adult. :) Provided one doesn't have much knowledge and has a very basic (light) understanding of minerals and of rock formations, that is.
But it is prompting us to get out the Magic School Bus volcano (MSB Blows Its Top) and erosion (MSB Rocks and Rolls) episodes, and we're getting out the Volcano software, too, so that's something.

There are a few really cool information bits - such as that the Tambora volcano in 1815 in India "...released so much ash and gas that it blocked out some sunlight and caused the entire earth to become cooler. The next year was called 'The Year without a Summer', because it snowed year-round in Europe and North America."
I had no idea about that.

I think maybe the reason it's recommended for a young age is because the activities are pretty basic. One of them that we tried (epsom salt and water poured over black construction paper) had pretty disappointing results. I expected it to do something when it dried, not just leave salt on the paper. ???

I'm glad we have this book, and I'm sure we'll be using it over the years. I just think that it's a little dry for young children that don't have a good concept (or interest) of things like extrusive and intrusive igneous rocks.

We did get out a few things - a granite stone, pumice, and obsidian to aid in the understanding of what they were talking about, and my children liked that.
I think it would greatly aid this book if you had one of those little collections with a lot of different kinds of stone and minerals in it.

So - all in all, a lot of the more interesting things we already knew, just by being out in the world and investigating nature and our mountains and asking questions, and what we didn't know still seems a little out of our scope of understanding.
I suspect that this could just be a problem for us, in this family, as we explore and discover more naturally than is presented here. (Or really can be presented in a book, maybe.)

But we'll hang on to the book, us non-geologist people, and I'm sure eventually we'll have a pretty keen understanding of rocks and minerals.

Update: Maybe this information just takes a while to sink in, because on a couple of occasions, my children exclaimed, "Hey! We learned about that!..." with quite a bit of enthusiasm. :)

We'll have the drawing for the winner tonight! You can enter for the book here.

And let's hope after reading y'all don't come to the conclusion that I'm a blockhead.

Coming up : George Washington: 25 Great Projects You Can Buid Yourself and The Silk Road : Explore the World's Most Famous Trade Route.

And we'll begin the 2011 Science Fair tomorrow - make sure to link in your science projects, investigations, and experiments through the month of February!

This Drawing is Closed!


  1. Hi there, I was just sitting here wondering how on earth you manage to do so much with your kiddies, AND blog so often too. I need you to tell me you have an entire domestic staff out back, running the house like a dream! (It would make me feel so much better!)
    Cool book, great subject, if a little dull in areas. We bought a crystal book to try and increase interest, the kids found all the descriptions fascinating, although it has led to having rather a lot of crystals about the house, literally everywhere actually!
    Oh and by the way, I loved the quilling posts, fab pictures, must try it out later this week.

  2. My house is currently a disaster. :D
    I'm trying to fix that today.


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!