This is a great activity if it can be coordinated with a camping trip or is just a good day trip by itself. As always safety is a priority so be sure to have safety goggles for all participants or switch off to whoever is hammering while requiring a safe distance for everyone else.
If you want a fun reward for after the activity make a candy rock geode in advance. These take a while to make with all the cooling required, but are fun to have and most kids love candy. Here is a recipe https://www.instructables.com/Geode-candy/
Spend some time before you start to learn about how geodes are made or better yet, get a geologist (or other “rock hound”) to come and give a talk. This is also an opportunity for an older Navigator to create a presentation to give to the group. Use the video provided or find other sources like
If you are able to go find geodes, plan your day and bring necessary items for a day outing (sunscreen, hats, snacks, water…). If not, order geodes on line so they arrive in time for your scheduled activity day. Here are a few options to buy geodes, but there are others.
Review safety procedures:
- Eyes must be protected when cracking open geodes
- Geode can be put in a sock or covered with other material to keep it from flying around and hitting someone
- Fingers can get banged by swinging hammers
- Whoever is hitting the geode needs space in front, on the side, and behind them so no one gets hit
- others as you think of them.
Provide examples of what a geode looks like and then send the kids out to the geode field to look for them. Have buckets handy to hold the found rocks. Have the kids discuss which rocks are geodes and which are just rocks. How can they tell? What makes a geode different from a rock? Here are a few sources to help.
Once you have found enough, regather in a space big enough for everyone to spread out with a hard surface to hammer on. A concrete area outside is a good option or use a brick under the geode to create a hard surface. Consider putting kids in groups of 3-4 with an older Navigator or adult as supervisor. Everyone needs to wear goggles regardless of distance or if they are actively using the hammer. Shards fly everywhere. It is strongly recommended to put the geode in a sock or cover with some sort of material, but this does hinder seeing your progress and determining where to hit so use your best judgement.
In a controlled manner start hitting the rocks with the hammer. Start gently and increase in force after determining how solid the rock is. Some are very hollow and will smash if you hit it hard so go slowly. Others are pretty solid and will need to be hit hard in order to crack them open.
What did you get??? Spend some time comparing the opened geodes. What do the crystals look like if it was easy to open? What if it was hard to open? Did you get any colors?
If you made a rock candy geode select one participant to GENTLY crack this last one open and then let everyone have a piece to eat.
Consider returning your rocks back to nature after you open them. Some may find it hard to part with them, but as part of leave no trace, it is recommended that you don’t take things out of nature either.