Rocks in My Pocket

Grade Levels: 2 - 5

What young child doesn't collect pockets full of rocks? It's easy to find a rock anywhere, but for children years ago rock collecting wasn't about having a neat collection; rather, it was a way of life.

Students will:

  • understand that mining rocks (coal) is a hard job.
  • understand that mining practices and child labor practices have changed over the years.

  • Rock collections
  • Chart paper and markers

    1. Introduce key vocabulary: mining, finding, age limit, mine, excavating.
    2. Have students bring in some rocks or, if they collect rocks, ask them to bring their rock collections to school.
    3. Have them share their collections in small groups of two to four students. Have them focus on "how" and "where" they collected the rocks.
    4. After everyone has had a chance to share, solicit a few "hows" and "wheres" from the group and record them on the chart paper. Discuss the relative ease of finding or purchasing stones the children have. Ask the students if they have any theories about where store-bought rocks might have come from.
    5. Introduce the process of mining – or removing precious rocks and gems from larger rocks. Use the analogy and examples of digging a large hole in the ground as construction workers do. Backhoes, bulldozers, and dump trucks move the heavy rock.
    6. Ask students for theories on how the rocks were mined before there were large trucks. Record theories on chart paper.
    7. Have students go to a mining website.
    8. Have students keep track of information.
    9. Gather students together when research time is over. As a group, share and discuss findings. Record questions, findings, and wonders on chart paper. Begin discussion with: "What were you surprised to find out?" "How do you earn money?"
    Review worksheets to see what students recorded and understood from their research.


  • Using safety goggles and hammers, crack and chip apart pieces of cement and rock; "mine" for small shining rock chips. Compare this task to those performed by miners many years ago.
  • Visit a quarry to watch modern-day mining and excavation.
  • On a world map, chart what gems and stones are mined in what parts of the world.
  • Group students together according to birthstone types. Have each group do research on the Internet. Ask them to look for locations of where stone is mined in the world. Locate this country on a large world map. Report findings to classmates.

  • understands the nature of scientific inquiry.
  • knows that in science it is helpful to work with a team and share findings with others.
  • knows that people of all ages, backgrounds, and groups have made contributions to science and technology throughout history.
  • knows that although people using scientific inquiry have learned much about the objects, events, and phenomena in nature, science is an ongoing process and will never be finished.
  • knows that scientists and engineers often work in teams to accomplish a task.
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