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Schedule for Summer 2004

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Last Summer's Programs

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Rocks / Rock Hounds

Last summer at our Rock Hounds program everyone went home with a small collection of rocks and minerals that they found themselves.  Children searched for rocks in our "garden," washed rocks for their collections, sifted for treasures, panned for gold, and glued their discoveries to name cards.

This spring, our Rocks program will include many of the same activities -- especially if the weather is warm and dry enough that we can set up outside!


Last summer, most activities took place on the sidewalk and grass by the front door.  Children:

  • Washed rocks (variations for 2 years and up)   Learn more

  • Sifted sand for buried rocks (best for 3-year-olds and other children who don’t put rocks in their mouths)   Learn more

  • Panned for gold, copper, and fools’ gold (best for ages 6 and up)   Learn more

  • Collected in the Rock Hounds’ “garden” (appropriate for any children who don’t put rocks in their mouths)   Learn more
  • We supplied plastic bags to hold their discoveries.  Some children made their rocks into a real collection by gluing them to name cards (best for ages 5 and up)   Learn more

Learn More About It

   Wash Rocks 

We've got a bucket of very dirty rocks.  If you help us wash them, you'll discover nice pieces of quartz, mica, and feldspar -- the three minerals that form the rock called pegmatite.  (Click on the underlined names to learn more.)

The rocks that you wash can be added to your collection.

Younger children can spray and scrub some larger rocks (rocks that are way to big to fit into small mouths).


   Sift Sand for Buried Rocks

There are treasures hidden in our pools of water and white sand.  If you carefully sift the sands, you might find nuggets of copper and bits of fool's gold.  You can add your best finds to your collection.


   Pan for Gold, Copper, and Fools’ Gold 

Some treasures are much too small to sift for, including real gold dust that's buried in the sand.  To find the gold, you have to pan for it -- just like prospectors have done for more than 100 years.  During Rock Hounds, we'll teach you how to pan.  When you're done, you'll find real gold dust (just like in the photo below).

To make it look bigger, we'll put your gold dust in a tiny glass jar.  

The buttery-yellow gold will be mixed with: 

  • white quartz sand
  • black magnetite sand
  • maybe some bits of silvery-yellow pyrite (also called fool's gold) or copper (the color of a shiny penny).

You can learn more about gold by downloading this pamphlet from the U.S. Geological Survey (requires Adobe Acrobat, written for adults and older children):
< >


   Collect in the Rock Hounds’ “Garden” 

In the Rock Hounds' Garden, we've got rocks and not much else.  That makes it the perfect place to find rocks for your collection.

Our garden contains "decorative landscape stone" bought at local stores.  In early July, it included  brown chert, quartzite pebbles, trap rock, salt-and-pepper granite, and something we call "geode rock."

The Wonder Works Rock Hounds' Garden is a smaller version of the garden described on this Web page:
   < >
If you look near the middle of the page, you can find out which local stores carry these types of rock.


   Glue to Name Cards 

Once you've searched in the garden, washed some rocks, and sifted and panned some sand, you can step inside the air-conditioned museum building to cool off.  

As you cool off, you can complete your rock collection by gluing your discoveries to name cards.

If you need help identifying your rocks, you can go to this Web page:
   < >

If you need some extra name cards, you can try downloading this Word2000 file and printing it on cardstock:
   Name Cards for Rock Hounds' rocks
If that doesn't work, e-mail us at and we'll find another way to get you this file.


Copyright 2004 Eric D. Gyllenhaal                                              Search this Site

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For more information visit the Salt the Sandbox home page.

This page was created on June 6, 2003, and it was last updated on March 28, 2004.