Geology is a favorite subject of my kids. They love learning about different types of rocks, and have some pretty good collections for their ages. One of the really great parts, however, is how easy it is to introduce kids to geology.
1. Notice the Geology Around You
The very first thing you can do with your kids doesn't take any money. Just notice the geology of the area around you. You can point out layers of rock in canyons or mountains. You can pick up rocks that you find and learn about what kind of rocks are in your area. There are a number of websites out there which can help you identify rocks and minerals. We've found some nice plagioclase feldspar in our area, for example.
You can also make a point of looking at the geology of any places you visit. If you're going on a family trip, make sure you point out how the land changes as you go. The changes don't have to be dramatic, although it's certainly fun to be able to point out the cone of a volcano or a truly impressive rock formation.
2. Visit a Mine
Do an online search to see if there are any mines to be visited in your area. Some have tours in the mine, or you may be able to buy buckets of mine tailings to search through. Prices will vary by mine, of course, but it can be a really fun experience. Make sure you pay attention to all safety rules at the mine, as they can be dangerous. You may or may not find anything interesting in your bucket, but the search should be educational.
3. Buy Rough Rocks and Minerals
One of my daughter's favorite presents ever was a bag of dirt from a mine my sister bought off eBay. I don't see that kind of auction often anymore, and it's a pity because my kids had a blast digging through it and finding the various rocks and gemstones that caught their interest.
Some of the rocks were just fine rough, such as the chunk of amethyst geode. Others we put through her rock tumbler to make them look a little nicer. Both types were fun to look at and figure out what rock or mineral they were.
There are also little kits with rocks and minerals hidden in a block of gypsum sand plaster, for those who want their kids to work at getting the rocks. The rocks in these kits are generally pretty small, but my kids had one and did enjoy it. Just be aware that it's a messy process and can be frustrating.
You can also buy rock and mineral sets that already have them identified, but we had a lot of fun doing that part ourselves.
4. Check Out Online Resources
While the hands on stuff is the most interesting, the internet opens up all kinds of options for teaching kids about geology. You can check out volcanoes safely, learn about earthquakes or how the Grand Canyon was formed right from your home. It's a great tool when you want to look at the geology of areas not near your home.