Collecting Unusual Rocks And Minerals For Kids And Adults

Looking for some unusual rocks, fossils, gemstones and minerals to collect? Here’s ten odd specimens that appeal to amateur rockhounds of all ages! Be the envy of other mineral collectors with strange stones that have special stories and are sure-fire crowd pleasers…

Rocks and minerals for kids and adults are a great way to share a hobby and learn about geology. You can find most of these at lapidary and rock shows or even fossicking, if mum or dad are keen! Many of these specimens are relatively inexpensive, so you won’t have to break the bank in order to fund your child’s rock collection or indeed, your own.

Magnetite on hematite.
Magnetite on hematite. | Source
Magnetite off hematite.
Magnetite off hematite. | Source

1. Magnetite Crystals On Hematite Magnet

This is a new addition to my own collection, as I couldn’t resist it at the most recent lapidary show I attended. Basically it is a hematite stone that has been turned into magnet and had magnetite crystals sprinkled all over it.

Magnetite and hematite are both iron ores. Magnetite is the most magnetic mineral in the world and when it was discovered, it was used in the world's first magnetic compass. Magnetite is mined in the USA and Canada.

Hematite is made up of 70% iron and is found in Brazil, Australia and Asia. It is far easier to mine than magnetite, because it already contains a lot of iron, so it doesn't cost as much to extract the iron for commercial use.

You can pull the magnetite off and put it on again, just like playing with magnets, only it’s more geological looking.

A fossilised dinosaur poo (coprolite).
A fossilised dinosaur poo (coprolite). | Source

2. Dinosaur Poo (Coprolite)

Ahhh, the joys of owning your very own piece of fossilised dinosaur poo! If you don’t already have a specimen of this interesting stone, then try to get one, because it’s so realistic looking and can almost be mistaken for the real thing, although it’s a lot friendlier.

Fossilised animal dung is known as coprolite and palaeontologists break open coprolites to find out about the diet of the animal. Sometimes, bones, teeth or scales can be discovered inside and the shape can help them understand the type of body it came from. Coprolites can be found in many parts of the world and the smallest ones look like pellets or tiny eggs.

View of ulexite from an angle - click on the photo to enlarge.
View of ulexite from an angle - click on the photo to enlarge. | Source

3. Television Stone (Ulexite)

Ulexite is also known as TV Rock, TV Stone or Television Stone, because of its amazing fiber optic properties. When you put a piece of newspaper underneath it, you can see the contents of the paper appearing on the top of the stone. The fibres in the rock act like the fibre optic cables of a television, transmitting light from one surface to another.

Another special effect of ulexite is that when it is held up to a light or has a laser shining through it, it will produce concentric circles of light. Ulexite is a boron ore and can be found in the deserts of southwest America, Turkey and Chile.

A good quality piece of ulexite needs to be polished at a perpendicular angle to the fibers to produce this effect, so test ulexite specimens before buying them to make sure they display the correct optical properties.

No, ulexite is not transparent, but milky white all the way through. The image you see is projected on top of the rock!
No, ulexite is not transparent, but milky white all the way through. The image you see is projected on top of the rock! | Source
Iron pyrite, otherwise known as "fool's gold".
Iron pyrite, otherwise known as "fool's gold". | Source

4. Fool’s Gold (Iron Pyrite)

Iron Pyrite is a delight for kids because it reminds them of real gold. It is often found in quartz veins near gold and can be mistaken for such, so that’s why it is also called “fool’s gold”. You can also find it in sedimentary rock, metamorphic rock, in coal beds and in some fossils.

Pyrite is the most common of the sulfide minerals and can make sparks when struck against steel. It is also used in marcasite jewellery, which was popular during the Victorian era. Today it is mined for sulfur dioxide and is used in batteries and radios for conductivity.

A good specimen of pyrite has a cubic crystalline structure and it is a common mineral that is found in abundance around the world.

Ammonite containing agate.
Ammonite containing agate. | Source
Outer fossilised ammonite shell.
Outer fossilised ammonite shell. | Source

5. Ammonites

Ammonites are the fossils of prehistoric sea creatures that were able to swim in prehistoric oceans using little tentacles. There are hundreds of ammonite species around the world and the most popular ones are from Morocco, where the Sahara desert was once covered by a vast ocean millions of years ago.

Ammonites died out out about 65 million years ago, along with the dinosaurs and scientist like to use them as index fossils to determine geological time periods based on species. They look good in rock collections because they can contain all sorts of minerals from hematite to agate, pyrite to crystal.

Usually ammonites are cut in half and polished to show off any internal chambers filled with gemstone. Lesser quality specimens are left whole, as there is no gemstone contained within.

The little golden hairs of "Venus hair stone".
The little golden hairs of "Venus hair stone". | Source
Another rutile colour in a quartz point. Click on the image to enlarge.
Another rutile colour in a quartz point. Click on the image to enlarge. | Source

6. Rutilated Quartz

Rutilated quartz (also called sagenite) is quartz with rutile in it. Rutile is a small, needle like crystal that can be golden, black, silver, green or red.

The most popular is the golden rutilated quartz, which is also known as “Venus hair stone” because the rutile looks like little golden hairs.

Rutilated quartz comes from Kazakhstan, Australia, Brazil, Norway, Madagascar and the USA. It is a rare stone that is hard to find and the rutile is made up of titanium dioxide.

Lots of people like collecting rutilated quartz but it is not used much in jewellery because it is a softer stone that can be scratched easily.

7. Thunder Eggs

Thunder eggs or thundereggs are egg shaped and when you cut them in half, they often contain agate, jasper or opal. They are made from a special formulation of prehistoric volcanic lava and can have other minerals and crystals in them too.

They are different to geodes, because geodes are hollow while containing crystals, whereas a thunder egg is mostly filled with minerals and the name comes from Native American folklore where it is said that they are the eggs of thunderbirds, who threw them at each other.

Thunder eggs vary in size and can be a few centimetres wide to bigger than a tennis ball. They can be found all around the world, but are especially known in the USA, Germany, Africa, Poland, Australia, Romania, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Canada and France.

A very large 13cm long thunder egg from Queensland, Australia.
A very large 13cm long thunder egg from Queensland, Australia. | Source
Tektites.
Tektites. | Source
Moldavites.
Moldavites.

8. Meteorites (Tektites)

Tektites are made of terrestrial (or alien) rocks and are thought to be created by meteorites which hit the Earth’s surface and drop molten bits of rock off. They are irregularly shaped and are usually a glassy type of rock in a dark colour, sometimes transparent.

Tektites are the driest known minerals on Earth, containing 0.005% water content. They can be found only in certain parts of the world, spread over large “strewn fields” and the three major areas are Southeast Asia (especially Thailand and the Philippines), Australia, North America (Caribbean) and West Africa (The Ivory Coast).

Some tektites are called moldavites and these ones are green and transparent when held up to the light. Moldavites are found in Moldavia in former Czechoslovakia and are believed to have come from a meteorite crater in Germany. Fine quality moldavites are used in jewellery to display their naturally unusual shape.

A trilobite from the Middle Cambrian period, Utah USA.
A trilobite from the Middle Cambrian period, Utah USA. | Source

9. Trilobites

Trilobites (or trilobytes) are extinct marine creatures that have fossilised from millions of years ago. They are arthropods and filled the oceans for over 270 million years, which makes them quite common. There were over 17,000 species of trilobite and it is believed they died out due to lowering sea levels and less food diversity available.

Many lived on the sea bed, scavenging and feeding, while others swam and ate plankton. Trilobites can often in be found with other salt water marine fossils and geologists use them to date the age of the rocks where they are found (by knowing the different time periods in which various trilobite species existed).

Every continent in the world has trilobite fossils and some trilobite fossils show an outline or imprint only, while others preserve the whole skeleton.

Geodes are hollow rocks filled with crystals.
Geodes are hollow rocks filled with crystals. | Source

10. Geodes

Geodes are great for children’s rock collections, because they are very appealing! They are basaltic lava or limestone rocks that are hollowed out and contain crystals. The crystals can be one of many different types, although quartz is the most common one to be found in geodes.

Some geodes can have agate, chalcedony or jasper on the edges of them. When geodes are cut in half and polished, they make great ornaments for the home.

Geodes can be found in many places around the world, but there are well known geode areas in the USA (Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky and Utah) and in Brazil, Namibia and Mexico.

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Happy Collecting!

If you’ve already collected most of these and are looking for further specimens to discover, try these affordable gemstones:

Moss Agate
Galena
Picture Jasper
Boulder Opal
Agatised Rhyolite
Fossilised Nautilus
Fossilised Sea Urchin
Apophylite
Shaman Stone
Baryte Rose
Tiger Eye (or Cat’s Eye)
Amber
Fossilised Shark Teeth
Moon Rock*
Peacock Ore

*Moon Rock will put a bit of a dent in your budget as it is priced per gram and is considered rare, since it is brought back to Earth by astronauts.

A Great Video For Kids!

© 2014 Suzanne Day

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Comments 17 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great fun! We used to do this when I taught science and the kids loved it.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Author

Thanks Billybuc, my kids are busy collecting rocks every chance they get. You should see them creating a rock museum in their bedroom and selling me tickets!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

This was enjoyable! Although I do not know anything about rocks, your rock collecting hubs are educational and interesting. I have some beautiful geodes from an elderly uncle of my husband's who died. I've never heard of the Dino poo. Cute. It does make me wonder what of ours will be turning up fossilized many years from now.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Author

LOL! Yes, human coprolites could very well be part of rock collecting history.....sometime in a few million years!


dearabbysmom profile image

dearabbysmom 2 years ago from Indiana

I so enjoyed this hub! I've long been a rock hound...back in the day my friends could not understand why I took geology in 4-H instead of cooking or sewing. When my kids were young we based a weekend trip on finding geodes. Love how you highlighted some of the more interesting and unique ones! Voted up and interesting :)


raymondphilippe profile image

raymondphilippe 2 years ago from The Netherlands

The stories these rocks could tell ;-) I think you delivered a lovely intro to rock and mineral collection. Enjoyed your hub.


mistonja profile image

mistonja 2 years ago from Croatia

Nice never knew these kind of rocks existed xD


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Author

Thanks everyone, for your kind comments. Yes, these are strange rocks indeed and there are 1000s more like them, that's why there are so many people into collecting rocks and joining rockhound clubs - putting together a huge collection can take decades!


Susan Recipes profile image

Susan Recipes 2 years ago from India

Interesting hub. Great pics. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and interesting.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

A great idea for rock collecting I like this idea to keep occupied the photos are awesome.


mueblesdejardin profile image

mueblesdejardin 2 years ago from madrid

what a very good and detailed information.

thank you!


Tolovaj profile image

Tolovaj 2 years ago

Rocks, minerals, fossils ... Kids love them all and I believe adults are no different, if they didn't loose the natural curiosity. It0s amazing how much opportunities for educating can offer a single piece of stone. Great stuff!


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

What a great hub on the rocks and gemstones that are on our planet. Some I had never heard of. I have a great collection of gemstones including a Moss Agate. They are all around me and on the shelf above my computer, including a big beautiful amethyst.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 2 years ago from Central Virginia

I love this hub. I've been picking up rocks and minerals most of my life. I've read dozens of books and have displays all over my house. With all that, I still learned from this hub and have a renewed interest in collecting again. Good job!


Vellur profile image

Vellur 2 years ago from Dubai

Great hub, interesting and informative. It is indeed a great hobby for kids and adults.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 19 months ago from Houston, Texas

Most of the rocks I collect are free souvenirs from various travels. I have purchased some petrified wood and some large rocks with quartz crystals rising up out of them as well as some fossilized clam shells. The colors, shapes and sizes of the various types of rocks and minerals are not only beautiful but interesting as well. Collecting them as a hobby would be not only fun but educational as well. Up votes and sharing!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 19 months ago from sunny Florida

I adored this..so many with which I was not familiar...now who does not want to add magnetite and dinosaur 'poop' to their collection?

Fun and informative, Suzanne.

Angels are on the way to you this morning....voted up

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