I’ve had a crystal mining kit floating around for months now. The idea behind this kit is to give kids the fun and excitement of excavation, but with a guaranteed payoff at the end (unlike in the real world). The main feature of the kit is a chunk of sandy plaster in which is embedded a bunch of stones — quartz, amethyst, jasper, etc.
So the other day, when we were home sick from school, I pulled it out and let the kids at it. The kit came with a little scraping tool and a brush for excavation, but I’d already gotten out a rock hammer in order to break it apart so everyone could have their own little piece, and the boys quickly decided that was a much more effective tool. It was only after they were happily demolishing the plaster that I read the enclosed instructions. This informed me that the point of the kit was the give kids the experience of real excavation, that finding and removing the stones would be slow and tedious work, and that the entire project might take hours or days to complete.
I looked over at Ryan, currently using the rock hammer to smash the plaster to bits, and at Nathan, who’d abandoned his kit-authorized tool for a metal knife and was prying his fifth stone out.
Ok, so we didn’t do it the way we were apparently supposed to. But we came out with a handful of crystals (mostly quartz), and it was a good half an hour of demolition and treasure hunting.