One of the things that I find important in this fast paced world we live in is to take opportunities to slow down. The following is a fun activity that helps your kids take a look at the tiny details.
I noticed my younger kids getting down on the ground and watching beetles, or searching for the tunnels to ant hills. But as they got older, distractions tended to keep them from enjoying life’s tiny treasures. This activity will encourage close observation of our surroundings.
It’s important to begin this activity with a favorite book about rocks, and mine is Everybody Needs a Rock written by Byrd Baylor. The book is quiet and meditative, putting the kids in just the right frame of mind for the next step.
We discuss rocks and where they have found ones they like. The older kids may not want to join in at this time, but they get a lot of benefit from listening to the enthusiasm of younger siblings. If you don’t have little ones, this is still an exercise that older kids will enjoy.
When I began teaching this journaling activity, I wasn’t sure how the older kids would take it, but I was pleasantly surprised. They not only enjoyed it on the day we did it, but I would find them writing about rocks on their own.
You don’t need a patch of beautiful rocks. There are interesting rocks even in gravel.
The important part is for your kids to slow down enough so they can find and enjoy the variations in the rocks, tiny or large.
I give my kids enough time to really find the perfect rock as described in the book, usually 15 or 20 minutes. If you have picked a sunny day and they want to stay outside to write, this is the perfect lesson.
Remember to provide prewriting time. Even though my kids were pretty proficient at writing, I went through the five senses each time. It helps solidify the process in their minds.
Discuss the journey their rock may have gone on. Does it have scrapes like it may have been marked by a glacier? Is it smooth like it has been rolled by water? What color is it? Does it have crevices where softer material has been washed away?
This is a great way to start a unit on minerals. However, finding the perfect rock and writing about it is an enjoyable activity in itself.
I always write while my kids are writing, so they see me model the process. The questions I ask aren’t directed AT them, but instead are structured to encourage their imaginations. For example, I wouldn’t ask what color my rock was, but I might ask why they think there are so many colors in one rock. Then we could discuss the possibilities, which would become my prewriting brainstorming.
Have fun with this process, and enjoy exploring the world beneath our feet.