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Salt the Sandbox for Earth Week 

Specimens from the Salted Sandbox 

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Specimens from the Salted Sandbox 

We salted the sandbox at Wonder Works, a Children's Museum in Oak Park.  That means we mixed small specimens of shells, fossils, rocks, or whatever into the sand in our sandbox.  (The term "salt" comes from the mining industry.  Dishonest mine owners would sometimes "salt" their properties with gold in order to fool prospective investors.)

Here are some things we use to salt our sandboxes:

Fossil shark and ray teeth from Africa
Fossil shark and ray teeth from Florida
Crinoid stems and other fossil sea life from Indiana
Shells from India
Polished rocks from all over the world
Brown quartzite pebbles from Alabama
Fluorite from Illinois 
 

If you want to learn more about the salt-the-sandbox tradition in our family, please go here.

If your kids like to collect, you may appreciate this article, called "Aaron's Treasures."
    

Fossil shark and ray teeth from Africa

These tan and light-brown fossilized teeth came from the phosphate mines of Morocco (a country in northwestern Africa).  They are 50 to 70 million years old.  The oldest ones came from sharks that lived during dinosaur times.

We haven't found a kid-friendly Web site about these fossil teeth, but here's an online fossil shop that has photos and information about common types of shark teeth found in Morocco:
   < http://www.buriedtreasurefossils.com/Morocco_Shark_Teeth_Catalog.htm >

In the Chicago area, you can small plastic boxes with 23 to 30 of these teeth in many museum gift shops and at Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop in Evanston:
   < http://www.davesdowntoearthrockshop.com/ >  

You can buy Moroccan shark teeth by the pound from online fossil dealers like Sharky's Shop or on EBay.

 

Fossil shark and ray teeth from Florida 

The dark-gray and black fossils of shark and ray teeth were collected in Florida.  Some of these fossils were from fish that lived during Ice Age times (from 10,000 to about 2 million years ago), and some were even older than that.  However, none are as old as the dinosaurs.

You can buy shark-tooth-rich black pebbles from FossilWeb.com, where they are called "Paleo Pebbles."  You can buy Florida shark teeth by the pound from online fossil dealers like Sharky's Shop or on EBay.

  

Crinoid stems and other fossil sea life from Indiana  

The small, reddish fossils are 350-million-year-old sea animals.  We collected the reddish fossils in south-central Indiana on hilltops and along the shores of Lake Monroe.  The most common reddish fossils were pieces of stem from crinoid animals:

Crinoids are sometimes called sea lilies, but they are actually animals related to sea stars.  Broken stems of crinoids look like beads.  

Here's a Web page with more information about fossil crinoids:
   < http://www.uky.edu/KGS/fossils/crinoid.htm >

To learn more about the reddish fossils, please go to this web page:
   < http://www.saltthesandbox.org/campfire/FossilHunt.htm >
  

To learn more about fossil collecting, please go to one of our other websites:
http://www.saltthesandbox.org/ESCONI/#Learning  http://saltthesandbox.org/cicada_hunt/StoringCollections.htm#CollectingFossils 
  
  

Shells from India

The salt-the-sandbox shells are from an ocean beach in India.  They include many types of snails and clams.  We bought them in big bags from one of these online shell shops:
   < http://www.seashellcity.com/seashells/shells_bulk_1.html >
   < http://www.seashellworld.com/ > (look under "assorted shells")

  

Polished rocks from all over the world

The salt-the-sandbox polished rocks were collected from many different countries and them polished in large rock tumblers.  Some of the types of rocks are identified on this Web page:
   < http://www.saltthesandbox.org/rocks/namespolished.htm >

In the Chicago area, you can buy rocks like this in many museum gift shops.  The best selection of polished rocks in our area is found at Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop in Evanston:
   < http://www.davesdowntoearthrockshop.com/ >  

We buy polished rocks by the pound at Dave's and online through EBay.

  

Brown quartzite pebbles from Alabama

These naturally rounded pebbles are known by the brand name, "Alabama Sunset."  We have bought 50 pound bags of them at many stores that sell landscape supplies, including Home Depot and WalMart.

You can learn more about quartzite pebbles on this Web page:
   < http://www.saltthesandbox.org/rocks/quartzitebrown.htm >

   

Fluorite from Illinois

Some of the glassy-looking, clear to purple crystals in our sandbox are broken pieces of fluorite.  Fluorite breaks naturally to make triangular crystal faces.  Our fluorite came from mines in far southern Illinois, along the Ohio River.  Go to this page to learn more about fluorite:
   < http://www.isgs.uiuc.edu/maps-data-pub/publications/geobits/geobit4.shtml >

We bought the salt-the-sandbox fluorite by the pound at a rock show sponsored by the Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois (ESCONI).  If you go the the ESCONI Juniors Web page, you can find information and links about upcoming rock, mineral, and fossil shows in the Chicago area, plus more information about buying and collecting rocks in our area:
   < http://www.saltthesandbox.org/ESCONI/#Learning >

  

Copyright 2006-2009 Eric D. Gyllenhaal                                              Search this Site
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This page was created on June 6, 2004, and it was last updated on November 7, 2009.