The glass pan contains beach sand from Aruba and gemstones that the kids actually sifted from a mine! Albeit a mine at a zoo. :) I also provided a gemstone guide, a magnifying glass, and paintbrushes. If you want to pretend you are searching for gemstones found in a mine, you can use a container full of gritty sand and rocks, some Field Tools, a sand sifter, and a handful of gemstones. You could even provide a tray of water to sift the gemstones in.
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I placed the gemstones on top of the sand first, so that they could see each of the gemstones. Then I carefully shook the pan so that the gemstones became buried in the sand. (And actually, that tiny green stone in the middle is actually an emerald that Bean's dad found in Hawaii!)
While they dug up their gemstones, I read from our Rocks and Minerals Guide.
After they uncovered and matched each gemstone, I read the description and answered their questions.
Munchkin preferred using the fold-out gemstone guide, while Bean preferred looking through the book to find the different gemstones. She loved comparing them to similar gemstones and asked what made them different. Then they moved on to the next gemstone.
We set this activity up while I was watching my 1 1/2 year old cousin. He mostly sat on my lap and watched, but eventually he wanted to explore too. So I put 2 cups of sand and a handful of gemstones in a gallon sized Ziploc. He was then able to pick it up, shake the sand around, and check out the gemstones. He loved it!
I hope you enjoyed our short series! We will be back soon for a series on Life Cycles!