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MacBeth's Earth Science Opinion

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Charlotte Mason's Cure for Tired Text-taught Tots

Back Yard Nature

The Gray Squirrel Project

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Winter Activities

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Unusual Math

Winter Reading List

Great Literary Characters--Learning without School

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Biographies, more or less...

Getting Started  Homeschooling--my path in books


Earth Science, the study of the earth, is a high school introduction to geology.  It is usually the first of the sciences taught in high school, though some high school programs omit it all together.   While I avoid any traditional geology text books, I believe that plenty of reading, accompanied by excellent field work, can provide any student with enough background to excel in continued study of geology.

Listed below are some living books on geological topics, and some basic books which can act as a spine for the study.  A review book, like Barron's Let's Review Earth Science, can provide the student with alternative explanations, exercises, and final exams at a reasonable price.

For field work, you're in luck!  You live on the Earth!  Finding a place to observe geology, the study of the Earth, should be easy!  The tough thing is recognizing geology under a city or suburban landscape.  The roadside geology books (see below) are a great way to see what your state has to offer geologically without going to far, if you can be satisfied with the geology that surrounds you.  Here on Long Island the only rocks are glacial erratics (the rocks scraped off the mountains to the north and carried here during the ice age).  Sure, I'd love to study volcanism, but post-glacial geology is local, so it has become my specialty.  Maybe your area has volcanoes, or a glacier, or caves, or beaches, or petrified forests, or badlands, or impact craters, or geysers...whatever is there, work with it.  Each environment has geologically interesting features.  Find out more about your region at the US Geological Survey site.

If you are interested in making a collection, make sure you have permission of the land owner.  Use a rock hammer to take small samples of larger rocks so your collection fits into your home or garage.

Join a local mineralogy club.

Read free online booklets from the USGS:

Rock collecting



The Interior of the Earth

Our Changing Continents

Volcanoes of the United States

Birth of the Mountains

Field Work

Click on these thumbnails to see photos of a few of our geological adventures:

See Photos of our diamond mining trip!

Get in the car and learn geology!  This acclaimed series takes advantage of that great marvel of modern road-building--the road cut.  Blasting for highways has exposed rock layers and other interesting geological features.  


Roadside Geology Series:






No. and Central California






New Mexico






Baja California (includes biology!)








New York




South Dakota








Vermont and New Hampshire













Can't get there from here?  Watch a videos from the USGS:

Living Rock (the "Intro to Earth Science" video most students see)



Geology  (fyi, most geology books are written from an "old earth" perspective)


for environmental geologists and meteorologists:

  • The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn is a history of the names of cloud formations.  A beautiful and informative book.

  • A Field Guide to the Atmosphere (Peterson Guide)

  • The Snowflake Man : A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley by Duncan C. Blanchard (remember reading Snowflake Bentley with your  little ones?  High-schoolers can revisit Bentley in this biography)

  • Tying Down the Wind by Eric Pinder is a delightful romp with a meteorologist on Mt. Washington, and despite the reviewers' grumbles, it's a good read (or listen, as it is available from Audible, too).  Brrr!

  •  Clouds in a Glass of Beer fun with atmospheric physics...really, I did say "fun."



Laboratory Manuals and Equipment

Prospector's gold pans, rock hammers, field bags (these are great!), goggles and more, available from Amazon, or from the following science equipment supply companies, which also carry rock samples:


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