We’ve had a lot of fun studying rocks in the past, even if I’m not very good at identifying them. You don’t have to be a geologist to try your hand at rock study — but you do have to have rocks! If you’re like me, you may be at a loss as to where to find something other than gravel. So, where can you find rocks to study? Try these 10 easy ways to start a rock collection.
Where to find rocks for rock collecting
1. Around your yard or neighborhood. Let’s start with the obvious. Go outside! Check around your yard and neighborhood. You may be fortunate enough to live in an area where interesting rocks are readily available to those who look for them.
1. Online friends. Okay, I know there probably isn’t anyone who still does email groups, but back in the day, an email group was a fantastic jump start to our rock collecting. We did a rock exchange with several families in my group and wound up with a nice variety of rocks we might not otherwise be able to find in our area. Everyone who was interested in participating just collected rocks from their area to exchange with families in a different part of the country.
Forums aren’t quite as obscure as email groups, so that or a Facebook group might be a good place to start, too. If nothing else, we probably all have Facebook friends who live in different parts of the country, so post on your page to see if you have any friends willing to send a few rocks your way.
3. Friends and family. If you’ve got friends or relatives in other parts of the country, ask them to send you some interesting rocks. Even those who live in the same area you’re in may be a good source. We got a really nice collection of rocks from the “overstock” of a rock-collecting friends set.
4. Try a Rock Hounds club. We purchased a set of rocks from a local rock hounds club. It turned out to be a really awesome set because it had an example of each type of rock (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and included some interesting specimens that we’d probably not have been able to find otherwise.
5. Check at museums. Many children’s museums or aquariums offer rocks and gemstones for sale.
6. Use a subscription service. Several years ago I did a review of The World’s Most Fascinating Rock Collection. We got some amazing rocks from them that we still enjoy and pull out from time to time. Check out The World’s Most Fascinating Rock Collection for details.
7. Nature walks. Be on the lookout for interesting rocks when you go on nature walks near creeks or on trails. Just be sure that it’s okay to take the rocks. If you’re at a nature center or preserve it’s probably not allowed.
8. Near water. If you live near an ocean or river, take a walk along the beach or shore, keeping an eye out for interesting rocks.
9. Local colleges. Call the geology department at colleges and universities in your area to see if they can suggest local spots to hunt for rocks.
10. Roadcuts and construction sites. Roadcuts are areas where a path has been cut through hills or mountains to build a road. These and construction sites where the earth has been dug up are good spots to check for rocks. Again, make sure you have permission to be in these areas and proceed with caution. Both could be dangerous, especially with young children.
Activities for learning about rocks
After you’ve collected the rocks, you can try your hand at identifying them with this handy rock key. And, of course, you should make some edible rocks! Try these:
Have you discovered good spots to look for rocks?
updated from an article originally published February 26, 2009
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.