Sunday, March 12, 2017

March 13 - Jewel Day

Today is the day for your child to bring out that extra bling! A certain 7yo girl with newly pierced ears comes to mind. We are going to look at both jewelry and gemstones for this fun holiday!


We have a few books for kids about making jewelry with beads at the library, but they are pretty old, and I have not been able to find anything online with both a recent pub date AND good reviews. Any suggestions??? This is the most recent offering we have on our shelves (pub 2004):

Cool Beaded Jewelry

A good basic set of instructions for beginners, but you can find the same information online, so don't special-order it!


Really, any Fancy Nancy book will do to talk about a little glitz and glam, but this particular title features a rhinestone necklace - and a little sisterly love.

Extension: Break out the costume jewelry, and have a fashion show of your own!

Rocks, Minerals and Gems

Disclaimer: I have not actually seen this book (yet - it's on order!), but it has excellent reviews for beginning rock hounds, and we DO have an earlier book by Farndon on the same topic (Collecting Rocks and Crystals) which I have found very useful. Both are written at an upper-elementary grade level, so if you need something a little more basic for a younger child I would recommend:


This title is more about properties of certain minerals, but it has enough gorgeous photographs to inspire a new rock hound!


Let's make our own jewels! Do you have any clay left over from yesterday's flowers? If not, whip up some more and see if you can replicate the different shapes gem stones come in (scroll about halfway down this linked page for pictures). If you have any metallic acrylic paints on hand, that would make them extra shiny - but any colors will do! Poke holes before drying if you want to string them, or make sure one side is flat enough to glue to a crown, vase, etc. later.


Use your clay jewels or cut some out of paper for practice with

- patterns

- adding and subtracting

- or just sorting


* What causes gem stones to form? Well, for this we need to learn some terms such as
- igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock
- core, crust, and mantle (of the earth)
- magma, erosion, sediments, evaporation, lithification

This web site has a pretty easy to follow description of how different categories of gems are formed.

* Evaporation is the easiest (and fastest) concept to illustrate at home. Mix 1/2 cup Epsom salts, 1/2 cup very hot water, and a few drops of food coloring for about a minute. Place container in a sunny window or in the refrigerator, and watch what happens!

A slightly longer-term (and more expensive) experiment, resulting in a larger 'gem', can be found here.

Social Studies

* Is there a museum near you with a display of precious gems? If you are in NM, the NM Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque has a nice display! If you are even more local, visit The Blue Stone and ask about some of the neat gems and jewelry they have on display. (Make sure you say "hello" to Ivan!)

* Where do we find these gems? Well, most of the rare gems are found in Brazil, Asia, East Africa, and Australia - none of which are places most of my readership lives. That doesn't mean you can't find anything of interest nearby, though (and seriously, all of our kids think the cool rock they found in the stream is much more interesting than Mom's tiny diamond, right?)

Read through this article for tips on gem hunting, and get yourself outside! You probably won't find a diamond in our NM desert, but some pretty quartz is a definite possibility. I found all of these in the Las Cruces area:

Each is almost as big as my head!


How about some jewels (in cookie form) that we can eat? 

1/3 cup softened butter
3 oz softened cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp almond extract

Sift in:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Then stir in:
3 cups coconut flakes

Chill for 20-30 minutes, then roll into balls. Roll balls in more coconut. Place on cookie sheet and make a small indent in the middle of each. Bake at 350 until just starting to turn brown. While still warm, drop a teaspoon or so of your choice of jelly into each indentation.

(No coconut on hand? Try adding gumdrops, whole or chopped, to your favorite sugar cookie recipe instead!)

Other Web Sites to Explore

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