What is a rock?
What is a gem?
Do you know?
Today we went on a quest to find out. A gem is a rock, but not all rocks are gems.
We visited the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine to find out just what are rocks and gems?
The Elijah Mountain Gem Mine is located at 2120 Brevard Road in Hendersonville, NC. It is owned by Dean and Sandra Cloer, and their two sons, Christian and Elijah. The company is named after her son, Elijah. For 15 weeks of the year, they travel to England and other places in Europe to learn about the world. One of their favorite subjects is “Gem Stones” and so the family opened this business to help fund their educational trips. They also have an antique business in part of the building and have many antiques from Europe that they bring back on their trips.
This weekend, they held an open house and invited all the HCHA homeschooling families to come for free on Saturday February 26th and Sunday 27th, 2011. They wanted to share with the homeschool community and the public what they have been doing,
1) how they have expanded to increase their gem mine and antique business,
2) to help children learn about gems,
3) and have homeschoolers try their hand at mining buckets of sand and rocks to look for gem stones in their flumes.
Any HCHA homeschool family could come and receive scoops of materials to wash and hunt for gems stones in the flumes, FREE!
Let’s go in and take a look around, shall we? Ready? Lets go!!!
This is HCHA homeschool mom extraordinaire Sandy, Elijah’s Mom (or Mum as she maybe called in her world travels).
Sandy is a true educator at heart. She is teaching my kids about rocks, gems, fossils and …….
wait for it……
wait for it.…….
Yes, that is a big fossilied pile of “dino” poop right there next to the left of her arm.
Yuck! But Wow! My kids thought this poop was awesome!
Another view of the dinosaur poop at the right side of the photo. She even had small fossils of the poop for sale.
(Note to self, I wonder if I could market some of the contents of all the diaper changes I have done. There has to be a niche for it somewhere. Maybe if I let it harden for a few thousand years, or maybe just dry it slowly in an oven, someone will want to collect it and put it on display. Better start saving a load or two for a future collector???).
This is the most amazing uncut crystal specimen I have ever seen up close.
The are also lots of geodes cracked open through out the store, with beautiful crystals inside. I could just imagine having one of these in my home for my children to explore. I would love to have a light put into the bottom of it to shine upwards through the amazing purple and clear crystals.
Here are just a few of the special antiques Sandy has brought back from Europe. There were at least four rooms or more filled with various antiques, but I picked this picture to share. Besides displaying her own European antiques, Sandy also rents out space to other antique venders to sell their wares too.
Outside we tried our hand at mining for gems. A scoop of sand and rocks were added to our screen box and we took these over to the flume (a flowing channel of water) to wash away the sand and dirt. We repeated this process three times as instructed to us by Elijah. He is very helpful. I don’t know how I didn’t get his picture.
What did we find left in our box? All sorts of rocks and gems.
These guys, ages 10 and 8, are on a real treasure hunt.
This little guy, age 6, was more than thrilled to find his treasure! We could hardly pry my son away from the whole process. It was so fascinating. And addicting!
Sister washing away the dirt to find her treasures. Oh the anticipation, she couldn’t wait to see what was revealed.
Not one gem, or one rock, escaped from these diligent treasure hunters!
And, even I had fun washing rocks with my two and three year olds. I love a good treasure hunt! It makes me think of these verses from the bible:
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.
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 biblegateway.com
I can’t wait to repeat “hunting for gems” again at home and pretend or role play that we are at the mine. I gleaned lots of tot and preschool ideas with this activity. So keep your eyes pealed in the future for some tot trays and preschool ideas using rocks.
Just look at the two year old’s fascination as the stones became visible in his box. He definitely found a load of treasure!
Ok, did I mention Sandy has a teaching spirit? Time after time, she stopped to answer the children’s questions and teach them about the gem stones and rocks they had found.
No matter where they found her, she would take the time to kindly answer their questions. Just look at the joy on his face as she tells him what kind of stones are in his hand. He is 8 years old, and he knows a good treasure when he sees it.
Here is Sandy’s husband Dean, explaining to my husband and 10 year old son, details of the many gem stones in their store that have been made into jewelry .
Sandy also served free lunch refreshments to everyone who came out these two days to mine for gems. She had a table set up with hot dogs, condiments, chips, and drinks. She said they served over a 150 hotdogs for lunch on Saturday, and she didn’t have a full count yet for Sunday. She was pleased with the turn out and all the homeschool families who came to see the gem mine over the weekend.
Here is one of Sandy’s helpers at the store, Joe. For two days, he cooked up delicious grilled hot dogs for everyone to eat. He was always smiling and really interacted well with my children. He had a funny sense of humor too.
Now thats a cheesy smile! Clenching his teeth in this grin, I think he was telling me to get the picture over with so he could continue looking at all the wonderful stones. I was definitely interrupting his research.
You can’t beat Sandy’s hospitality, patience, and teaching spirit!
Here the children are posing for a picture with Sandy!
My kids loved visiting the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine.
Would you like to visit Elijah Mountain Gem Mine?
Find directions, check their hours, rates, and more on the website.
Their website is www.elijahmountain.com
Elijah Mountain Gem Mine will be panning for gold through the summer starting in May in their indoor flume. Sandy said to come out and try your skills panning for gold! You just might strike it rich! http://www.elijahmountain.com/Gold_Rush_Gold_Panning.html
Want to enhance your learning of rocks, minerals, gems, gold, North Carolina, and more?
Check out this post HERE
for a quick mini unit study I put together of some simple rock and gem terms, science, and history fun you can do with your kids.
Here are some additional resources for learning about ROCKS, GEMS, And GOLD lots of fun: