Gareth Stevens to the rescue for my poor depleted rock shelf. Since today is Nonfiction Monday, I wanted to share with you the joy I experienced when I opened my mail to find the four-book set of Rock Stars by Chris Pellant and Helen Pellant coming soon. Crystals and Gemstones, Fossils, Minerals, and Rocks. You need to put all four on your first priority ordering list for this fall.
Trust me! Rocks are a passion of mine and these titles are winners. These are easier to read than the previously reviewed series from Gareth Stevens and fit the lower levels grades 2-4. These will never be on your shelves and you’ll have to have multiple copies to meet the demand of teachers. The sidebars are so interesting that even my #4 son stopped to read information as he browsed the titles and proclaimed them "good." That translates to "fantastic, wonderful, amazing, gotta-have’s" in #4′s language. I appreciated the library binding also as he plopped my huge amethyst crystal from a mine on top of the book to study it in comparison with the photos.
The photographs dominate these books. I plan to use these to emphasize the importance of captions and how pictures can lead the story. Unlike the DK Eyewitness books, these photographs lead your eye from picture to picture and text to text. The reading is not disjointed. There is no overall story narrative but the chapter headings provide direction. My favorite pages are the Record Breakers and the Did You Know? pages in each title.
I am also a fan of the "collector" pages in each title. There are specific directions to involve students to actively get out there and put their knowledge to use. The only thing missing in these books is a section on learning more. That’s where the librarian comes in. I hope that someone develops more activities to go along with these titles. I did find some fun lesson plans on the Smithsonian website.
When I first looked at the titles, minerals didn’t excite me so I read Crystals and Gemstones first. Remember this is the lady that was going to the Smithsonian to see the dinosaur exhibit, but then refused to leave until she saw the Hope Diamond and all the other gems. However, when I did read Minerals I was hooked. I finally understand the relationship of minerals to rocks, soil, etc. It’s the minerals that become some of my favorite gemstones.
Since I was in a gemstone kind of mood, I visited with my art friends on Saturday night. Gordon and Kelley are silversmiths and wire wrappers who sell their works online through the website etsy.com. Have you ever heard of "etsy?" etsy is raising its usage standings in comparison with those of ebay, but there is no bidding for objects. Thousands of members produce handcrafted works of all types and have a community online to share ideas and sell products directly to you without bidding. It’s a good thing my bank account is locked up this weekend or I’d be tempted to deplete it.
Gordon is a silversmith with SilverCrows Jewelry. He explained many things about working with metals and stones like my birthstone garnet pictured in the earrings. I also learned much about handcrafting vs casting. Gordon strictly does all hand crafting and even has intricate carvings in bone. His silver designs were amazing. You should see the amethyst rings he made for Kelley!
If you email him with ideas, he can specialize for you, also. Hmmm… I’m thinking emeralds. Green goes well with this red hair. Where were those sites on the spiritual properties of stones again? I found this page.
Kelley creates some outstanding sterling silver wrappings on her site Earth Wrapped Jewelry. I am so happy to tell you that I am displaying lots of her jewelry today on my fingers and ears. I love to touch and needed new rocks, gems, and minerals to be able to share this love with students. (That’s my story – it’s for the children – and I’m sticking to it)
I particularly enjoy the silver wrappings around the lace agates like the crab fire agate to the right and the Snakeskin Jasper stone in green at the bottom.
I learned so much about wrapping, square and circular wire, and choosing stones. Kelley has even offered to teach me how to create jewelry. Working with stones! What bliss!
Kelley shares some of the earthlore on stones on her site including this information on Snakeskin Jasper:
Strength during activity, pleasant personality, joy of living, cheerfulness, eliminates mundane worries, promotes self-esteem and self-awareness, energizing.
Wow! What a great weekend! I found a new series that I love and plan to order multiple copies of Rock Stars. I was able to putter with rocks, gemstones, cubic zirconia, silver, and gold plus I was able to tie in the history and "lore" of stones. This was fun. I hope you had such a grounded weekend.
If you need to email Kelley to ask more, click here. If you know of more rock books and great websites for me, please email me or leave a comment. When I visited Thunder Bay, I discovered the amethyst mines where tourists can dig for stones. Know of any other locations?