Rock Unit Study and Classifying Gemstones

After our visit to mine gemstones at Elijah Mountain Gem Mine (see post HERE ),
we needed to find out what all those beautiful rocks were.

So we put together our own little mini Rock Unit Study with some fun activities to keep the learning going….

Rock Unit Study
A Mini Study of Rocks, Minerals, Gems
                   Be sure to check out the Unit Study Link Up to find more great unit studies!

Depending on your child’s skill level you can say theses words, spell, look up their meaning, write a story, make up a poem, find pictures, books, or articles about them, visit a museum or a gem mine to learn more, etc.

mineral deposits
volcanic ash
specific gravity
precious metals
gold rush

What is a rock?

What is a gem stone?

Basically a gem stone is a rock or mass of minerals that are precious and chosen to be of greater value.

Classifying gemstones

Spend some time classifying various rocks and gemstones.  You can pick some up at a fun mining company like we did, find some in your yard or park, buy some at a rock show (we have done this in the past too, its Nerdy and FUN.  I mean this in a nice way.  These folks live and breath rocks, and some even get into the philosophy of rocks such as was the bible literal or symbolical, etc….deep…man….), or online (see resources below).

We bought a simple chart at the mining company to bring home to match our stones too.  We also had a six sided study chart from Quick Study that we used for more detailed information.

This study chart was very nice.  It explains the weights and mineral/chemical make up of each rock.  It uses descriptive words to describe color and texture characteristics so that even rocks that look similar can be classifyed differently into the correct category.  It also explains shape of crystals, angles of cleavage, the rock cycle, hardness of rocks, luster, igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, vocabulary and more.

Did you know that a diamond is the hardest rock and it can scratch all other rocks?

We used a magnifying glass to see the details in the photos and match them to the details in our rocks and gemstones.

What is a flume?

What is mining?

What is gold?

Make a panning for gold diorama

“If I had a pot of gold” writing activity

Lesson Plans

What is fools gold?

North Carolina History

Did you know that North Carolina is called the Gem State?  Why do you suppose that is?

What gem is the symbol of North Carolina?

Look at a map of North Carolina (or another state you are interested in).     Locate areas where gems, and valuable minerals such as gold have been found.  Make a copy of the map and have the children lable some parts of it such as rivers and mountains or other areas.  Then use a tooth pick stuck in playdough or clay to mark where significant finds have been made.  You could lable the toothpicks with a flag (a folded sticker) to label special items such as rubies, emeralds, diamonds, gold, etc.

Many prize gems and gold have been found in North Carolina.  For a comparison, make a graph to show approximate amounts taken from mining these resources in NC during certain time periods. 


North Carolina is also a large producer of quartz that is used in making electronics.  Research how quartz is used in electronics and how much money this industry brings to the state of North Carolina each year.

Use these for copy work, or to enhance understanding and spiritual growth.

Luke 12:34
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
1 Peter 2:4-5
As you come to him, the living Stone, rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him, you also,
like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Revelation 21:19-20
The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

Proverbs 2: 1-5
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding
indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 
                                                                                                                                        verses from

Other ideas:

Watch videos or documentaries about mining.  There is a current show running about the gold rush in Alaska.  My husband watches this show each week.

Locate all the jewelry you have, or your family has on hand, and classify what gem stone they contain.  Identify if they contain gold or silver too.

Make a gem stone, mining, or gold lapbook.


Make a timeline showing how the mining industry has changed over the past 1,000 years.  Is the equipment the same, or what equipment changed, etc.

Set out several different rocks and do a scratch and a mark test.  Have the children write out or draw their observations.

Make your own plain or decorative rock or garden stepping stone.  Use a cereal box (for a rectangle) or a pie tin (for a circle) as a form and mix up a bag of concrete to make the stone.  Leave it plain, write on it, or decorate it with gem stones or masaic pieces of tile for a beautiful addition to your your home.  Use inside or outside. Very eas, frugal, and fun.

Here are more craft ideas using gem stones:

Jeweled Votive Candel Holder

Treasure Frame

Sparkly Bracelet

Sparkly Bangle Bracelet

Gemstone Garden Plaque

Gemstone Magnets

Gemstone Jewelry Box

Gemstone CD Ornament

Burried Treasure Craft Project and I Spy Bottle

Mosaic Flower Pot

Glassy ID

Do you need more resources?
Want to try your hand at classifying gemstones, mining, playing related games, crafts, or reading stories about mining for gems, or gold?

Here are some great resources:

Please share.
This entry was posted in Activity Tray, Frugal, Frugal School, Homeschool, Rock And Mineral Unit Study, Rocks and Minerals, Science, Unit Studies and Lapbooks on by .

About Melinda Weiser

I am a sinner, saved by grace. I am on a journey and offer to share my story with the hope that it will bless you. My one desire is to bring glory to my creator. I am a wife and the mother of 6 children, plus two in heaven. I enjoy homeschooling, research, teaching, homesteading, natural gardening, grass based farming, cooking, fresh raw milk, herbs, children, midwifery, and music. I am a writer, biblical mentor, and also work part time in the healthy foods and vitamin business I have a BSW degree from Kansas State University, and trained professionally as a medical social worker, biblical counselor, tutor, and vocal performer. Thank you for stopping by to read about our homeschool and family life adventures. Be blessed!

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