Project: Rockin’ Rock Swap & Giveaway

Rockin Rock Swap Text 2

Everyone loves to get mail. And as we have seen while doing the nature exchange, receiving a box of nature finds in the mail is even more exciting! For a rock loving friend, the ultimate package to receive might just be a rock collection from a far away land. While it would be great any time of year, fall and winter are great times to gather rocks, put together a little collection from your nature adventures, and send it off to a fellow rock lover to share a part of your world with them. Better yet, see if they will do a rockin’ rock swap with you!

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How to Swap a Rock

First you need to find that rock lovin’ exchange partner. You may already have a pen pal you could ask. If not, talk to your parents to see if they have a friend with a child who would be interested in a rock exchange. You might even ask a nature loving aunt, uncle, cousin or even one of your grandparents. Kids aren’t the only ones who slip cool rocks into their pockets while out on a hike!

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Then you need to build a collection. Before you start collecting, make sure that the area where you are hiking allows for collecting. Some national parks have a no collection policy to protect the natural habitat there. Once you know it is okay be sure to take only a few samples. Whether you are hiking around at the beach, river, lake, or on a desert or forest trail there are rocks to be found. Be on the lookout for some interesting ones to send your exchange partner and a few to keep for your own collection.

You will want to decide on a time frame for collecting. Some people have extensive rock collections and could easily select twelve or more to share, while others will need time to build a collection. Depending on how often you hike it may take you a week, a month, or longer to build a collection to send. Talk to your partner about when you want to send your exchange boxes.

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Decide ahead of time if you will identify the rocks for each other or leave it a mystery for you and your fellow budding geologist buddy to decipher. It is up to you. You may even find a rock you are having trouble identifying. Send it along and see if your partner can help you with identification.

Sending a Box of Rocks

A fun way to organize and protect your collection is in an egg carton. It may sound kind of funny to protect rocks, but some rocks, like shale, can be fragile and break apart easily. It also helps to prevent the rocks from knocking around in the box during transport.

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Here is what you need to organize and pack your collection for safe travel:

  • An egg carton
  • Cotton balls or Tissue paper
  • Labels (if labeling)
  • A sturdy shipping box
  • Packing material

Step 1: Line the bottom of each well of the carton with cotton or tissue paper.

Step 2: Place one rock sample in each well of the egg carton.

Step 3: If labeling use labels to write the name of the rock and place it next to the sample in the well. Another way to label is to write the name of the sample on the lid of the carton in the location that would correspond with the location of that rock.

Step 4: Over the top of your sample place enough cotton or tissue to secure it in place when the lid is closed. If you don’t put enough stuffing in, the rocks will move around during transport and possibly even get mixed up.

Step 5: Place the egg carton in a sturdy mailing box. But sure to pack newspaper or another packing material all around so the carton does not move about during shipping.

Step 6: Seal up the box with shipping tape and address it.

Step 7: Head off to the post to mail your collection!

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More Rock Talk

To find out more about the rocks and geology in your area you can ask the librarian or folks at the local bookshop about guides specific to your area.

If there is a university nearby see if they have a geology department that gives talks, walks, or even spring or summer camps for kids.

Check out your local nature center or natural history museum for information and displays about local geology.


Rocky Resources

There are a few general guidebooks that are great introductions to rock geology:

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals has great photos with descriptions in the back of the guide.

Peterson First Guide to Rocks and Minerals is another photo based guidebook with the descriptions right alongside the pictures.

The Golden Guide to Rocks, Gems and Minerals has detailed drawings with descriptions. Some prefer drawings to photos because the illustration represents a general idea of the most common sample while a photo is simply one specimen.

Whatever guide you choose just be sure that it has the right information for your geographical location.

Learning about rocks and how they were formed is a fun hobby that can last a lifetime. Just about anywhere you go there are rocks and once you get to know them, the history they hold about an area is fascinating.

Be sure to thank your rockin’ partner for a great exchange when you get your box of rocks.

The Giveaway

To kick off, or add to, a young rock hound’s collection we want to give away a box of rocks – including a piece of iron pyrite (even though it is a mineral!)

This box will contain rocks from both Nova Scotia, Canada and New Mexico. It will come without identification to encourage learning and research.

If you would like to enter to win please leave a comment on this post by midnight November 12th.

We will announce a winner on Thursday, November 13th.

We are happy to announce that Amy who said:

“My 9yo would *love* to see your rocks from places far-away from us. Thanks for the chance!”

was chosen as the winner by the random number generator! 

Congrats, Amy! Your box of rocks will be in the mail shortly.

Thank you all for you super great comments!

If you do a rock swap please let us know. We would love to hear about your experience!

Happy Rock Hounding!

35 comments… add one

  • Wendy N November 7, 2013, 6:19 am

    This sounds like an awesome idea. My son has a rock collection and also received one in the nature exchange and was excited when he saw the smooth rock. We have friends in Colorado who might interested in doing this with us. Thank you for sharing the idea.

  • Les November 7, 2013, 6:38 am

    This is a great idea! My kids would love to rock box!!!

  • amy November 7, 2013, 7:24 am

    My 9yo would *love* to see your rocks from places far-away from us. Thanks for the chance!

  • Kim November 7, 2013, 8:01 am

    Oh you know my little rock collector would love this! Thanks for the chance :)

  • tamara November 7, 2013, 8:07 am

    This is so exciting and such a great idea! Gee, I wonder if we have enough rocks for an exchange…haha! Our resident rock lover is already imagining what’s in the give-away rock box!

  • jm November 7, 2013, 9:24 am

    Yes, please! Thank you!

  • jen November 7, 2013, 9:31 am

    My rock lovers would be ALL OVER THIS. :-) Thanks!

  • Sara R. November 7, 2013, 9:32 am

    Our rock obsessed 6 year old just screamed when he saw what I was looking at! ;) We would LOVE to find a rock exchange partner…our nature exchange package contained a few rocks/fossils.

  • Rose November 7, 2013, 9:45 am

    How wonderful!

  • Kat November 7, 2013, 9:47 am

    Yes! Please! I am one of those people who can’t home from any sort of walk without at least 1 rock in my pocket, and I seem to be raising 3 little people who seem to feel the same way. And since the ground here is covered with a foot of snow already, I would love to win this giveaway for our family. Thanks! Ps I swear NM is the best place ever to find interesting rocks!

  • arianne November 7, 2013, 9:57 am

    We are a family of little rock hounds over here. We’d love more to add to our collection. We got our package for the nature exchange in the mail yesterday. It was so fun. We just love your website so far. Keep up the good work.

    • dawn & annie November 8, 2013, 7:12 am

      Thank you! Happy to hear you received your exchange. Exciting!

  • Monique B November 7, 2013, 10:03 am

    How perfect! My children recently started a rock study. This would be so fun!

  • lynn November 7, 2013, 10:32 am

    yes! my son and I had a wonderful time putting our nature exchange treasures together-we would love a box of rocks! We’re both rock collectors so this would be a real treat! (we’re anxiously awaiting our nature exchange package).


    • dawn & annie November 8, 2013, 7:14 am

      That is great to hear, Lynn! The process of noticing and collecting is a huge part of the exchange. So happy you had a good time putting it together!

  • Erin November 7, 2013, 11:29 am

    I love these exchanges! They are making us pay even more attention to the nature all around us! Thank you for all you do.

    • dawn & annie November 8, 2013, 7:15 am

      Yes! This is great, Erin! Love to hear it helped you pay more attention to nature!

  • Maya November 7, 2013, 11:34 am

    We love rocks at my house! And a rock swap is a great idea!

  • Chiska November 7, 2013, 11:41 am

    I come from a family of rock gatherers. My husband can always tell if I’ve worn a coat because there are usually rocks in my pocket. I’m heading “home” this week to Alaska and I’m looking forward to some rock walks with my Mom. Thanks so much for the exchange idea. I keep thinking what a great way to keep family members that are spread out connected.

    • dawn & annie November 8, 2013, 7:17 am

      Yes! A wonderful project to do with family for all around!

  • Amy November 7, 2013, 12:04 pm

    Fabulous idea! I have a couple of rock collectors here!

  • Sara November 7, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Yes, we have jus gotten into rock hounding. It’s pretty great here on the shores of Nova Scotia. If anyone would like to do an exchange with us please let me know!

  • Becky November 7, 2013, 1:39 pm

    Oh how exciting! Rocks from far away places. My dad used to travel all over the world and he would always bring back rocks as souvenirs. ;)
    It must be genetic because my little ones can’t go anywhere without bringing home rocks in their pockets.
    Great post!

    • dawn & annie November 8, 2013, 7:16 am

      Awesome souvenirs from a traveling parent! Thanks for sharing!

  • Emily November 7, 2013, 5:25 pm

    This looks like so much fun!! So glad our friend sent us here:)

  • Tina Grzeda Davidson November 7, 2013, 10:08 pm

    You ROCK! Thanks for all of the great inspiration!

  • Tammi November 8, 2013, 2:33 pm

    We just began a study on rocks. This would be great to win!

  • BJ November 8, 2013, 3:11 pm

    This is such a great idea!

  • Andrea November 8, 2013, 3:48 pm

    How great! I have a little rock hound…whose rocks could use a little organizing in this fashion!

  • Lise November 8, 2013, 8:52 pm

    My 4-year-old keeps telling me that when she grows up she’s going to study rocks; probably because she likes my geeky descriptions of the rock collection I kept as a child. This would be a great way to get her started! Thanks for the chance and for the inspiration.

  • Liz November 8, 2013, 10:45 pm

    I have a little budding geologist who would love some new exotic rocks to examine! Thanks for the great giveaway :-)

  • Jen November 10, 2013, 4:19 am

    We had so much fun with the nature exchange – a rock exchange would be great! This is just the nudge we need to pull out our rock books : )
    You girls are awesome!

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