Early Explorers Rocks

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Our latest package from Early Explorers was on the seemingly simple subject of rocks, but there was so much fun to be had! Of course we received the usual: a sticker for Travis’s suitcase, stickers to pinpoint on his map that depicted amazing rocks around the world, flash cards, and an activity booklet. The booklet was heavy on math and tracing activities this month, which made this mama very happy!

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Rocks Craft:

The booklet suggested making pet rocks, something Travis had only recently done in art class, but he was eager to replicate the activity at home. A trip to the beach gave us flat smooth stones that were perfect for turning into “pets.”

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Travis carefully chose his colors, while I painted a smile on a second rock.

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The one with the button hat is entirely his creation! He even named it. If you want to get extra creative, turn your pet rock into a frog.

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Rocks Science:

An oldie-but-goodie – make a volcano with baking soda and vinegar. We used terracotta-colored clay for the most realistic appearance, and even added a touch of red food coloring to our vinegar. Make a hole in your volcano, and fill with a little baking soda.

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Pour in the vinegar…

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…and watch it explode! Don’t be surprised if kids want to repeat this one again and again.

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Rocks Keepsake:

The geode Travis received was very pretty, and immediately became part of his “treasure” box, although I’ll admit I was a little disappointed this overlapped with the Natural Wonders pyrite we received in a previous package.

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Rocks Field Trip:

A summer vacation was the perfect chance to search for rocks on the beach. (Or if you’re not near the beach, head to your nearest park and see what kinds of rocks you unearth).

We checked out the cairns other people had stacked, including this wowza of a caterpillar…

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…and tried our hand at our own “inukshuk”!

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Rocks Further Activities:

The booklet suggested building a sandcastle in a sandbox (with the scientific reminder that sand is really just broken down rocks and shells)… but we decided to go one better and attend a local sandcastle contest! Travis loved checking out some of the winners, including an octopus and mermaid.

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We made our own creation with towers, a moat, and beach finds as decoration.

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Back at home, a recipe for rock layer parfaits was great fun to put together. Even little kids will get an idea about the layers that make up the earth when they make this recipe, whether or not they’ve seen the Grand Canyon.

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In clear plastic cups, we layered the following:

Graham cracker crumbs (sand)

Banana slices (clay)

Raisins (large rocks)

Jam (lava)

Granola (fossils)

Agave nectar (mud)

Blueberry yogurt (water)

Travis wasn’t wild about eating the parfait, but he enjoyed putting it together!

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Finally, we headed to the library for books, choosing topics that the booklet had grazed upon like geysers and minerals. These were a bit advanced for Travis, but the pictures were fun!

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We also selected our favorite rocks from the booklet. Travis said his favorite was any of the sparkly geodes.

Sandpaper Leaves

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We often think of leaf crafts as projects for the autumn, but here’s one that can be done in nearly every season (except winter!). It combines a little bit of nature, a little bit of sensory art, and a little bit of coloring all in one.

After a full family day at the park, we returned home with a collection of leaves. All of them were green this time of year (late summer), but we found leaves in as many different shapes as possible, everything from nearly oval, to trefoil, to pointy.

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Once home, I traced the leaves in permanent marker on sandpaper, making sure to include lines for the veins (a quick little science lesson on how leaves drink their water!)

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Travis loved selecting colors and filling in each leaf, with the sandpaper adding extra tactile fun.

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He made some leaves true to life (oranges, greens), and went beyond nature with a few others in vibrant pinks.

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Best of all was when he grabbed a handful of crayons for a rainbow leaf – his own invention.

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Cut out the leaves and paste up on the walls or use as pretty gift cards the next time you send a loved one something special.

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We loved this variation on leaf art!

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