This post has free resources for how to polish rocks, and also book recommendations to help identify rocks. Because the books may be checked out of the library, I consider them to be free.
Great Rock Collecting Books
It’s summer and many children like to find rocks, add to collections, and also collect rocks as souvenirs when on vacation. Some of the children’s books that are wonderful for rock information include:
Let’s Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans, illustrated by Holly Keller, a Reading Rainbow book with lots of non-fiction information including how rocks were formed millions of years ago. Suggestions for keeping rock collections are included. This book would be interesting to many ages, and is written for children.
The Rock Picker’s Guide to Lake Superior’s North Shoreby Mark Sparky Stensaas, illustrated by Rick Kollath, another non-fiction with dense informational text that even adults could learn from. I like this book for the illustrations as I admire people who can draw rocks well, and for the secret information on where the specific kinds of rocks are located around Lake Superior.
A history of rocks, information on beaches, and even what is not a rock is provided in detail. Living so close to Lake Superior, we can find these locations, although I realize other people may not find this interesting if they live far from the North Shore. This book has a table of contents, a glossary, and an index, making it suitable for research projects in school. No serious research project would consult books without these essential components!
Understanding and Finding Agates by Karen Brzys of Grand Marais, Michigan, is another required book for children rock-hounds. We live near Grand Marais, MN, and the rocky shorelines of both cities are very similar, of course. Although this book has dense informational text, the real photographs of agates intrigue children (and adults). Agates are waxy and some are kind of wrinkled. There are so many types of agates, over 3,000 types! The author shows photos of agate want-t0-be specimens to help differentiate from the real thing. The best way to be sure if you found an agate is to ask someone who specializes in rocks, but after looking through this book and reading the detailed information, you would probably be able to guess.
Geology: An Introduction to Familiar Rocks, Minerals, Gemstones and Fossils is a little cardboard, laminated fold out to take along when rock hunting. The fold out describes different landscapes where certain types of rocks could be found, has maps and pictures of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. It also has maps and photos of minerals, gemstones, and common fossils. The best part about this handy take along is it tells the simple, everyday tools needed to help determine the hardness of rocks which helps determine the type. It suggests noting color, luster, texture, the existence of crystals, and hardness of minerals. Although a simplified guide to rocks, it is jam packed with easy to understand information.
Because we drive by Beaver Bay, Minnesota, we get our rocks and rock books at the Beaver Bay Agate Shop and Museum. This store and museum is so full of information it is a field trip destination for northern Minnesota schools. Their website has pages devoted to Thomsonite, Agates, and Isle Royal Greenstone as well as many other interesting pages. They also have rocks from around the world. I bought my rock tumbler from this shop and students always enjoy polishing agates! Your local rock shop will probably have rocks to tumble, also.
So, a new item in the rock shop includes the Bubble Rock, a natural mineral found in Utah. It grows white crystals as a result of a reaction with white, distilled vinegar. Aragonite crystals will grow, and this can be done over and over with one rock. In the picture below, I also have some polished agates, amethyst, and a wanna-be-fancy rock.