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Explore Rocks and Minerals: 20 Great Projects, Activities, and Experiments

By Cynthia Light Brown & Nick Brown
Nomad Press

2456 Christian St.
White River Junction, VT 05001

Explore Rocks and Minerals would be a great springboard for a unit study or a supplement to studying geology, Earth science, or rocks and minerals. It has 20 activities and experiments--including the wonderfully yummy Earth models that my children thoroughly enjoyed making. What could be better than an edible Earth made from peanut butter, chocolate, ginger plum jam (the jam I had in my cupboard), and coconut?

This book is written in a very readable, informative way--complete with comparisons that children in elementary school will understand. For example, the book doesn't just tell how hot the lower portion of the Earth's crust is; it explains that at deeper levels closer to the mantle, the temperature is twice as hot as boiling water. It doesn't just state that the crust is 16 to 56 miles thick; rather, it explains that it would take approximately one hour to travel by car through the crust. This book is full of interesting facts, sidebars of vocabulary words, and clear explanations. Even my pre-K child has enjoyed listening to facts about the Earth and participating in the activities.

One thing to note is the evolutionary content. The evolutionary content is not extensive, but it is present in a few places. These places include mentioning that the Earth is billions of years old, the oldest rock found is "over four billion years old," and the youngest rocks are "20 times younger--less than 200 million years old." One of the later activities is a walk through time, including a table showing that one step would be the Earth being formed 4.6 billion years ago; step 460 would be the first humans 160,000 years ago, and time is denoted with BCE.

Despite the evolutionary content, there are many other excellent experiments like growing needle-like crystals, exploring fossil formation, making basalt columns, and creating stalactites. Each activity includes a materials list, instructions, and any cautions necessary. This book has such a thorough offering of simple activities that children will enjoy and wonderful comparisons and explanations that I am excited to use and have this book in my homeschool. I highly recommend it.

Product review by Marisa Corless, MH, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, February 2011

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