Reduce screen time these school holidays with awesome activities that kids will actually want to do!
Hands up if you’re living in a world of Red Stone Dust and Diamond Pick Axes! If you’ve got a Minecraft lover in your house, you’ll know just how much screen time it takes to build the ultimate house. Reduce screen time these holidays with fun activities that kids will want to do! Set up your own fossicking day, complete with mining for real gems – reduce screen time for a whole day for the price of a few rocks! Get kids excited about geology, not just Minecraft!
For parents of mini-Minecrafters, here’s a great day out, that is 100% Minecraft compliant – with a little bit of hidden education included! This can also be the BEST Minecraft themed birthday party ever.
How to organise a Minecraft themed fossicking expedition in Brisbane
How better to put an end to summer screen time than getting kids out to do their own mining? There are no working mines near Brisbane that can be toured, so you might just have to prepare your own mining expedition!
You will need:
A collection of “soft” rocks, pyrites, geodes, crystals or semi-precious gems
Ideally these will be about the size of a small fist so geodes are the perfect choice. Geodes (aka Thunder Eggs) are available affordably online or from your local Lapidary Club. Get them online for about $10 a kg plus postage. Geodes are thought to be “lava bubbles” and teaching kids about their origins is all about pre-historic landscapes, volcanoes and other fun, Minecraft-relevant stuff. Geodes contain “mystery crystals” from purple amethysts to bright orange agate, calcite, pyrite…. to just about every coloured “rock” found in Minecraft. The most common find is a cryptocrystalline quartz – that sparkles just like real diamonds!
Iron Pyrite (fool’s gold) is soft and crumbly, ideal for kids to explore on a fossicking trip (and a teeny tiny fraction of the price of real gold!). Muscovite and other “micas” are good options as they’re full of beautiful crystals and easy to break up into smaller pieces. You can find very affordable rocks online – especially if you shop around a little.
While you’re at it, you may wish to pick up a few fossils of creatures and dinosaurs that once lived in Queensland. This is a great way to pique kid’s interest in geology ever further and maybe even spark an interest in a visit to the museum! How’s that for a great alternative to screen time! Basic gastropod fossils start at about $10 but you can find some very impressive pieces for a little more. Read more about REAL Queensland dinosaurs here.
The all-important Minecraft Pickaxe (and eye protection)
Rather than arm a small child with a real pickaxe, a welder’s chipper or surveyor’s pick offers a safer option. A welder’s chipper (or welder’s hammer) is approximately $8 from your local hardware store, looks just like a Minecraft Pickaxe and is just about the right weight for a 6-10 year old to use. Of course, you’ll need to do it under very close supervision. Don’t forget to pick up eye protection too – protective glasses are available from about $5.
A towel and a hammer
If you choose harder rocks you’ll need to break them yourself. You’ll need a towel to wrap the rock in, and a hammer to smash it. Geodes are ideal as they are soft enough for a school aged child to break open themselves.
A bucket and spade
You’ll need a bucket big enough to carry all the spoils back to the car!
A map of your secret gem mining location
The perfect place to stage your Minecraft fossicking activity is a local beach. We used the Shorncliffe Headland because the cliffs are carved from beautifully patterned sandstone and feature packed! Simply find a secluded patch of sand and bury your geodes and other rocks about a foot deep. Tip: Make sure the tide is out! The sand will be easy for kids to “dig up”. Before setting out on your fossicking expedition, print a map from Google Earth and mark the spot to dig with an X. Encourage kids to follow the map, taking note of geographical features and rocks along the way.
If you can get another “Minecraft Mum” keen to join you, one can watch the kids on the beach as the other buries the treasure. Let’s face it, you’re surrounded by mums trying to reduce screen time these holidays – why not make a day of it?
Mining for crystals and geodes
Allow children to explore the “dig” themselves. Allow them to do the digging, find the geodes and speculate on what will be “inside”. While the answer may be “redstone” to them, encourage them to associate Minecraft finds with “real world terms”. Once you’ve found your bounty of treasure (remember to count how many you bury!) , kids can use their “Minecraft Pickaxe” to smash open the geodes or crumble up the soft rocks (if they choose to do so). Take extra care to stay safe as geodes tend to “explode” open!
Mandatory screen time… but not as you know it!
Once back home with all your treasures, allow kids to jump on the computer to look up their finds. Encourage them to label each rock with its name and display it on a bookshelf or in their room. Alternatively, kids might like to use their new found jewels to make their own jewellery – another perfect way to reduce screen time these school holidays!
Want it all done for you? Take a day trip to Thunder Bird Park in Mt Tamborine
Thunder Bird Park in Mt Tamborine is an excellent day trip for kids. It’s an easy walk, making it suitable for a “grandparents outing” these school holidays too! A natural spot for finding ancient geodes, kids will be able to collect their own “bucket” (for a fee) and then have them cut and polished (for another fee) into absolutely stunning thunder eggs. There’s nothing like a day trip to the Gold Coast to reduce screen time. Check out other Gold Coast day trip ideas here.