I could have scheduled this for an hour and a half! I thought kids would lose attention after a while, but we were racing to fit everything in.
[5 minutes] As kids arrived they got a nametag and a word search to work on while we waited for everyone to arrive.
[25 minutes] I started the program by having the kids make their own story stones. I purchased rocks at the dollar store (but certainly you could use "found" rocks, or have kids bring their own). I bought 13 bags of river rocks at the dollar store and had enough mediumish rocks that 20 kids could have made 15 story stones if they wished, so it was a good deal, I think. I saved some discarded magazines and put out stickers. Instead of Mod Podge, I just watered down some regular old Elmer's since I buy that by the gallon. We had a drying area off to the side so we could use the tables. I read a book after the story stones and my volunteer scurried to set up the other activities.
[~5 minutes] I had intended to read Let's Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans, but I was worried it would take too long and we were already behind schedule. (I foolishly forgot to plan transition time that included washing glue off of fingers). Instead I read the book I had printed to put out at the Rock and Mineral Exploration table, which was included with this unit that I purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers. Well worth the $10! The word search and cover for the rock book (see Activity 2) were also included in that unit.
Activity 1: Geodes
I bought geodes from Oriental Trading Company and recruited old and mate-less socks from my coworkers. I put together a brief information sheet about geodes for the table and dug the hammer out of my "maintenance and cleaning" drawer and we were set. They make it sound easy, but some of the younger kids (program was for 6-12 year olds) had a hard time with it. But everyone enjoyed giving it a go. Best on the floor or outside I think. Also need an adult to supervise and help crack open stubborn rocks.
Activity 2: Rock and Mineral Exploration
I bought small rock and mineral kits off Amazon and let the kids explore them with the magnifying glasses, nail, and tile (for streaking) that were included. I had meant to grab a magnet off my file cabinet but forgot in the last-minute rush to get everything set up. Rock books were set out at this table with pencils for kids to make observations about their favorite rocks.
Activity 3: "Treasure" Rocks
I followed the directions from Growing a Jeweled Rose, and it worked pretty well. I wish I would have made my "dough" a little drier, because I ended up having to put them in the oven on a low-temp because I was afraid they wouldn't air dry overnight. I made pretty hefty rocks so they would have lots of sizzle, but smaller ones would have dried faster. For "treasure" I just used a bag of clear "luster gems" from the dollar store. For a pirate theme, plastic coins or large jewels from the craft store would be fun. I had eyedroppers and a spray bottle for the kids to use, as well as the option to have my volunteer pour vinegar out of the bottle on their rock.
Who knew rocks could be so fun?! :)