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Unleashing the Magic: Igniting Children's Fascination with Crystals, Rocks, and Minerals

It wasn't until I was in my late 30's that I remembered my fascination with rocks as a child. As an adult, that eventually manifested into yoga, meditation and a love of crystals. But I didn't equate the two things together. I should have, because when I had a stall at markets (before COVID and a serious accident....) I remember it was always children who wanted to look, touch, and eventually buy the tumbled crystals on display.

So why are children fascinated with rocks, and how do you get children started with a rock collection?

The magic of rocks, crystals and minerals

Rocks have a magical appeal to children. They are fascinating, mysterious, and full of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Children are naturally curious, and rocks provide an excellent opportunity to explore and learn about the world around them.

Introducing children to the world of crystals, rocks, and minerals can suit various age groups. However, it is typically recommended to start introducing these topics to children around the ages of 5-7 years old and onwards. At this age, children are generally curious and eager to explore the world around them. Any younger, and they may be tempted to put them in their mouths.

At 5-7 years of age, they have developed basic cognitive and observational skills, making it easier for them to understand and appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of crystals, rocks, and minerals. However, it's important to note that every child is different, and their interest and understanding may vary. Adapting the learning materials and activities to suit the child's age, abilities, and interests is always a good idea.

Are crystals rocks?

Yes, crystals are a type of rock. Rocks are made up of minerals, and crystals are formed when minerals in a rock grow together in a regular and repeating pattern. Crystals can be found in rocks such as quartz, amethyst, and calcite. They often have a distinct geometric shape and can have beautiful colours and textures. Crystals are highly valued for their aesthetic appeal and are often collected for their unique properties and energy.

Here are a few reasons children are fascinated with rocks and how to get them interested in collecting crystal rock collections.

1. Rocks, natural beauty:

Rocks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. Children are captivated by their natural beauty and the unique patterns and textures they possess. The vibrant colours and sparkling crystals in certain rocks, such as amethyst or quartz, can be particularly alluring to young minds.

2. Rocks and hands-on exploration:

Rocks provide a tactile experience that engages children's senses. They can touch, feel, and examine rocks to understand their characteristics. The process of holding and examining rocks allows children to develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

3. Rocks and scientific discovery:

Collecting rocks allows children to learn about geology and the Earth's history. By studying rocks, they can understand concepts like erosion, sedimentation, and the formation of different rock types. This hands-on approach to science can spark their curiosity and ignite a deeper interest in the natural world.

4. Rocks and outdoor adventure:

Rock collecting often takes children outdoors, encouraging them to explore their surroundings and connect with nature. It provides a reason to go on hikes, visit parks, and discover new places where rocks can be found. Outdoor adventures help children develop a sense of wonder and appreciation for the environment.

5. Rocks and a sense of ownership:

Building a rock collection gives children a sense of ownership and pride. They can curate their collection, organise the rocks based on their attributes, and display them in a special place. This ownership fosters a sense of responsibility and encourages children to care for their collection.

How do you get my child started on collecting rocks?

To get children interested in collecting crystal rock collections, here are a few strategies:

1. Begin with the Basics:

Start by introducing children to the concept of crystals and their unique properties. Explain how crystals are formed and the different types of crystals that exist. Use simple language and visual aids to make it engaging and easy to understand.

You could then introduce children to basic rock types like igneous (NZ example pumice photo 1), sedimentary (NZ example limestone, photo 2), and metamorphic rocks (NZ example amphibolite, photo 3). Explain their characteristics and how they are formed. Use simple language and visual aids to make it engaging and accessible for young minds.

2. Field Trips, rock hunts and nature walks:

Plan excursions to nature reserves, parks, or even a local beach where rocks can be found. Encourage children to search for interesting rocks and crystals during these outings.

Field trips to places where crystals can be found, can be fun. Places such as mines, caves, or even outdoor locations are known for crystal formations. Allow them to search for crystals themselves, giving them a sense of excitement and adventure. This hands-on experience will make the collection process more meaningful.

You could consider providing them with magnifying glasses and containers to collect their finds if you can.

Click here to view the incredible rock formations in New Zealand, which could be a fun field trip to some new destinations.

3. Books and Resources for crystal identification:

You can use readily available resources to teach children how to identify different types of crystals. Guides or books can showcase various crystal specimens. Encouraging them to learn about the characteristics and properties of each crystal will make their collection more purposeful and educational.

If you are able, you could invest in age-appropriate books or online resources that can help explain different types of rocks, crystals, and their properties. There are also free online options such as Rock Encyclopedia. These resources can encourage children to explore and learn about their favourite rocks. Another free resource is a visit to your local library together to find books on geology for children.

4. Connect with Other Collectors:

Encourage children to connect with other crystal collectors in person or through online communities or forums. This will allow them to share their passion, exchange knowledge, and learn from experienced collectors. It can also be a great way for them to expand their collection through trades or swaps.

There are 16 active rock and mineral clubs in New Zealand, click here to view.

8. Attend Gem and Mineral Shows:

Take children to gem and mineral shows or exhibitions where they can see a wide variety of crystals on display. These shows often offer educational activities and workshops specifically designed for children. It will expose them to a larger world of crystal collecting and provide inspiration for their own collection.

5. Rock Kits and Tools:

If you can, provide opportunities for children to handle and examine different crystals. Let them touch and feel the crystals to experience their textures and shapes. You can also encourage them to observe the colours and patterns within the crystals. This hands-on exploration will spark their curiosity and fascination.

Once again, only if you have the means, you could consider purchasing a rock kit that includes a variety of rocks and crystals. These kits often come with identification cards and tools like a magnifying glass or a small hammer for breaking open rocks to discover hidden crystals. Such kits can be a great starting point for young collectors.

6. Engage in Rock-related Activities:

Plan activities involving rocks, such as rock painting, polishing, or creating rock or crystal jewellery. These hands-on activities allow children to interact with rocks creatively and further develop their interest in collecting and appreciating different types of rocks.

Other rock-related projects include building a rock sculpture, creating a rock garden, or designing a rock-themed artwork. This fosters teamwork, creativity, and a sense of accomplishment, making the rock collecting experience more memorable.

7. Display and Recognition:

Create a special area in your home where children can proudly display their rock collection. Encourage them to show their collection to friends and family, fostering a sense of accomplishment and recognition for their efforts. This will also give them a sense of pride and ownership over their collection.

Remember, the key to getting children interested in collecting crystal rock collections is to make it a fun and interactive experience. Encourage their curiosity, provide opportunities for exploration, and nurture their sense of wonder. With time and encouragement, your child may develop a lifelong passion for rocks and the natural world.

You could help them label each rock with its name and any interesting information they have learned about it. This creates a sense of organization and encourages them to learn more about their collection.

Crystal display | Strength Within
Crystals can be displayed however you like

8. Virtual Rock Collecting:

You can use technology to enhance the rock collecting experience. Explore virtual tours or online resources that allow children to virtually collect rocks from different locations around the world. They can learn about the geological history of each rock and add virtual specimens to their collection.

9. Encourage curiosity, creativity and questions:

Encourage children to use their crystals in creative ways, such as making jewellery, or artwork or even using them in science experiments. This will allow them to explore the versatility of crystals and find new ways to appreciate their beauty.

Foster a sense of curiosity and encourage children to ask questions about rocks. Be supportive and provide answers or help them find the information they seek. By nurturing their curiosity, you can fuel their interest in rock collecting and encourage them to explore further.

10. Reward and Recognition:

Celebrate milestones and achievements in their crystal collecting journey. Acknowledge their efforts and dedication by giving them small rewards or certificates. This recognition will motivate and encourage them to continue their collection.

Remember, the key is to make the experience enjoyable and hands-on for children. By providing them with opportunities to explore, learn, and connect with others in the crystal collecting community, you can foster a lifelong interest in crystals and create a meaningful collection.

What is the appeal?

Hands-on exploration of crystals can spark children's curiosity and fascination in several ways:

1. Sensory Experience:

When children can touch and feel rocks and crystals, it engages their senses and creates a sensory experience. They can feel the textures, smoothness, or roughness of the crystals, which adds a tactile element to their exploration. This sensory experience captures their attention and arouses their curiosity.

2. Visual Appeal:

Crystals come in various shapes, sizes, and colours, which make them visually appealing to children. As they observe the different patterns, colours, and formations within the crystals, it stimulates their visual senses and captivates their interest.

Crystals can be found from clear and transparent to various shades of blue, green, pink, purple, and more. The colourful nature of crystals catches children's attention and adds a sense of visual excitement to their exploration.

Many crystals have a natural lustre that reflects light and produces a sparkling effect. This sparkle and shine make crystals visually captivating, especially when they catch the light and create dazzling reflections. The play of light on the crystal surfaces can be mesmerising for children.

crystals vary greatly in formation | Strength Within
crystals vary greatly in formation and visual appeal

3. Unique Properties:

Crystals possess unique properties, such as transparency, lustre, and the ability to refract light. When children observe these properties firsthand, it sparks their curiosity and encourages them to explore further. They may ask questions about why crystals have these specific properties and want to learn more about the science behind them.

Crystals can have fascinating shapes and formations, such as geometric patterns, intricate structures, or symmetrical arrangements. These unique shapes and forms make crystals visually interesting and visually stimulate children's curiosity. They may be drawn to the symmetry or the intricate details within the crystal structures.

4. Discovery and Surprise:

The process of searching for crystals and discovering them in their natural environment or through rock hunts can be filled with surprises. Children may stumble upon crystals they didn't expect to find or uncover hidden gems. These unexpected discoveries create a sense of excitement and wonder, igniting their curiosity and motivating them to continue exploring.

Some crystals are transparent or have a high level of clarity, allowing children to see through them. This transparency provides a glimpse into the inner structure of the crystal and adds an element of intrigue. Children may enjoy observing the internal patterns or inclusions within transparent crystals.

Crystals come in various sizes, ranging from tiny crystals that fit in the palm of a hand to larger specimens that can be displayed as decorative objects. The size variations of crystals offer a sense of scale and can be visually appealing to children. They may be fascinated by the contrast between small crystals and larger ones or enjoy comparing the sizes of different crystals.

5. Personal Connection:

When children have the chance to handle and examine crystals themselves, it creates a personal connection with the objects. They can develop a sense of ownership and attachment to the crystals they find or collect. This personal connection fosters a deeper interest and investment in learning more about crystals and expanding their collection.

Crystals can interact with light in various ways, such as refraction, reflection, or creating rainbows. Light passing through or interacting with a crystal can create beautiful effects that capture children's fascination and a personal connection to their collection. The way crystals bend or split light can create captivating visual displays.

6. Hands-on Learning:

Hands-on exploration allows children to actively engage with the subject matter. It enables them to learn through direct experience and experimentation. By touching, observing, and manipulating crystals, children can discover their properties, observe changes in light refraction, and explore different aspects of crystal formations. This hands-on learning approach promotes a deeper understanding and enhances their curiosity.

7. Emotional Engagement:

Hands-on exploration of crystals can evoke emotions such as awe, wonder, and fascination. The beauty and uniqueness of crystals can elicit an emotional response from children, creating a positive association with the experience. This emotional engagement fuels their curiosity and encourages them to delve deeper into the world of crystals.

Crystals often stand out against their surroundings due to their unique colors, shapes, and textures. This contrast makes them visually prominent and draws children's attention. Whether it's a crystal embedded in a rock or a crystal displayed on a contrasting background, the visual contrast enhances the emotional engagement for children.

Crystals offer many visual factors, including colours, sparkle, unique shapes, transparency, size variations, contrast, and light interactions, make crystals visually appealing to children during hands-on exploration. The visual allure of crystals sparks their curiosity and adds to the overall excitement of the experience.

Overall, hands-on exploration of crystals provides children with a multi-sensory and interactive experience that stimulates their curiosity, captures their imagination, and fosters a fascination with the natural world. It allows them to actively engage with the subject matter and discover the wonders of crystals firsthand.

Remember, the key is to make rock collecting a fun and engaging experience for children. By incorporating hands-on exploration, learning opportunities, and fostering their curiosity, you can help ignite their interest in rocks and minerals.

Some types of rocks and crystals

Some examples of rocks that contain crystals include:

1. Granite:

Granite is a coarse-grained igneous rock that contains visible crystals of minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica.

2. Quartzite:

Quartzite is a metamorphic rock that is formed from the recrystallization of quartz grains. It often has a glassy appearance and can contain large, interlocking quartz crystals.

3. Limestone:

Limestone is a sedimentary rock that can contain crystals of calcite, dolomite, or aragonite. These crystals are often visible in the form of fossils or as small grains within the rock.

4. Gneiss:

Gneiss is a metamorphic rock that contains minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica. These minerals can form distinct bands or layers within the rock, and their crystals are often visible to the naked eye.

5. Pegmatite:

Pegmatite is an igneous rock that is formed from the slow cooling of magma. It often contains large crystals of minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica. Some pegmatites are known for producing gem-quality crystals.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other types of rocks that contain crystals. The specific minerals and crystal formations within a rock depend on the geological processes that were involved in its formation.

Lets look at Granite in more detail

The mineral composition of granite can be influenced by several factors, including:

1. Parent Rock Composition:

The composition of the parent rock from which granite forms can have a significant impact on its mineral composition. The minerals present in the original rock will be partially retained in the granite as it undergoes the process of melting and crystallization.

2. Temperature and Pressure:

The temperature and pressure conditions under which granite forms can affect its mineral composition. Higher temperatures and pressures can lead to the formation of certain minerals, while lower temperatures and pressures may result in the absence or alteration of certain minerals.

3. Magma Composition:

The composition of the magma from which granite crystallizes can also influence its mineral composition. Magma that is rich in silica and aluminum tends to produce granite with a higher proportion of quartz and feldspar minerals.

4. Time and Rate of Cooling:

The rate at which the magma cools and the duration of the cooling process can impact the mineral composition of granite. Slower cooling allows for the growth of larger mineral crystals, while rapid cooling can result in smaller crystals.

5. Presence of Fluids:

The presence of fluids, such as water and other dissolved substances, can affect the mineral composition of granite. These fluids can introduce additional elements and minerals into the granite during its formation.

It's important to note that the specific combination of these factors will vary depending on the geological setting in which granite forms. As a result, the mineral composition of granite can differ from one location to another.

How fluids influence granite composition

The presence of fluids, such as water and other dissolved substances, can have several effects on the mineral composition of granite. Here are some ways in which fluids can influence the minerals in granite:

1. Mineral Dissolution and Precipitation:

Fluids can dissolve certain minerals in the granite and transport their dissolved components. As the fluids migrate through the granite, they can encounter areas where conditions are favorable for the precipitation of new minerals. This can lead to the formation of secondary minerals that were not originally present in the granite.

2. Chemical Reactions:

Fluids can facilitate chemical reactions between the minerals in the granite and the dissolved components they carry. These reactions can result in the alteration or transformation of minerals, leading to the formation of new mineral assemblages.

3. Introduction of New Elements:

Fluids can introduce additional elements into the granite, which can then be incorporated into the mineral structure. This can result in the formation of minerals that are not typically found in the original granite composition.

4. Metasomatism:

Metasomatism refers to the process of chemical alteration of a rock by the introduction of fluids. When fluids interact with the minerals in granite, they can cause changes in the mineral composition by adding or removing elements. This can result in the formation of new minerals or the alteration of existing ones.

Overall, the presence of fluids can introduce new mineral components, alter existing minerals, and promote the formation of secondary minerals in granite. These fluid-mediated processes can have a significant impact on the overall mineral composition and texture of the granite.

Minerals founds in Granite

Some minerals that can be found in granite include:

1. Quartz:

Quartz is one of the most common minerals found in granite. It appears as clear, white, or gray crystals and gives granite its characteristic sparkly appearance.

2. Feldspar:

Feldspar is another abundant mineral in granite. It can occur in two forms: orthoclase feldspar, which appears pink or reddish, and plagioclase feldspar, which appears white or gray.

3. Mica:

Mica is a group of minerals that includes muscovite and biotite. Muscovite mica has a silvery appearance and can be found in thin, sheet-like crystals within granite. Biotite mica is darker and can give granite a black or dark brown color.

4. Amphibole:

Amphibole minerals, such as hornblende, can be present in granite. They are usually dark-colored and appear as elongated crystals.

5. Biotite:

Biotite is a dark-colored mica mineral that is commonly found in granite. It can range in color from black to dark brown and can give granite a speckled or "salt-and-pepper" appearance.

6. Potassium feldspar:

Potassium feldspar, also known as orthoclase feldspar, is a common mineral in granite. It appears as pink, salmon, or reddish crystals.

These are just a few examples of minerals that can be found in granite. The exact mineral composition of granite can vary depending on the specific geological conditions under which it formed.

And that is just granite!

Imagine the exploration that can occur for any other type of rock or crystal formation. The exploration could be endless and very interesting as a project for you and child.

I hope we have provided some guidance on how your child could develop a deeper interest in rocks, crystals and minerals. Enjoy the process!

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