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Kids love seeing ordinary rocks transform into dazzling gemstones before their eyes. It brings science to life for them. Rock tumbling is the perfect hobby for kids around 8 years or older. There are small, safe, and easy-to-use tumblers on the market.
The best rock tumbler for very young rockhounds is definitely the National Geographic Rock Tumbler. For slightly older kids, we recommend the Classic Crafts Rock Tumbler. Both of these come with everything kids need to get started with their new hobby, including rough stones.
A rock tumbler is a wonderful educational toy for kids, especially if they are already interested in geology. There are many different hobbies and toy tumblers available and choosing one that produces good results can be daunting. This article discusses the best rock tumblers that are designed for kids.
Kids Love Tumbled Rocks
If you have ever walked past a sign for a mineral scratch patch with a child, you will know the excitement that semi-precious stones incite in most kids.
There is something magical about seeing ordinary-looking rocks transform into shiny, colorful stones.
Best Option: National Geographic Starter Rock Tumbler
The most popular and highest-rated toy rock tumbler on the market is made by National Geographic. The brand is well-known and reliable, and they provide excellent customer service, even if you order it on Amazon.
The National Geographic rock tumbling starter kit (Amazon link) contains all the tools, equipment, and instructions you need to start turning rough stones into brightly polished gemstones. It even includes half a pound of raw gemstones with nine different minerals from around the world.
You get black, red, and Dalmatian jasper, sodalite, amethyst, rose quartz, aventurine, tiger’s eye, and agate.
The instruction booklet is beautifully designed and illustrated, making it easy for kids to understand. However, some adult guidance is advised, especially for young kids.
This rock tumbler is constructed from high-quality plastic, and the barrel has a thick rubber coating to absorb the impact from tumbling rocks. All mechanisms are encased by plastic so there is no risk of injury.
It is rather loud while it is running, so it is best to keep it in the garage or basement, as the instructions suggest!
You need to run this rock tumbler for 3 to 4 weeks to get the best results. Explain to your child beforehand that the process is not instantaneous to avoid disappointment.
The kit comes with 5 different jewelry fastenings, so kids can make their own necklaces, clip-on earrings, rings, or keychains with their gemstones.
TIP: Do you know what the tumbled rocks are good for? There are a lot of options on how to use tumbled rocks, check the simple and clever ideas in the article below:
What Can You Do with Tumbled Rocks? 10 Simple & Clever Ideas
Alternative: Classic Crafts Rock Tumbler
For children 10 years and older, the Classic Crafts Rock Tumbler kit (Amazon link) is a good option. It contains everything you need to tumble rocks, including some rough semi-precious stones, like amethyst, jasper, and agates.
The kit contains enough grit and polish for one round of rock tumbling – you will need to buy more after the first round.
This rock tumbler is slightly more heavy-duty. It is constructed from good quality, hard plastic. One downside is that the barrel is not rubber-coated, so it is very loud while running.
It will not last forever, like a professional rock tumbler, but with care, it can polish a few rounds of rocks.
The motor and tumbling mechanism are enclosed so that little fingers cannot get hurt.
The instructions that come with this rock tumbler are very detailed. If you follow them very precisely, you should get wonderful results.
The gemstones come out looking bright and gorgeously polished. The kit includes jewelry fastenings so that kids can craft with their new stones. They can make rings, necklaces, keyrings, earrings, and brooches.
It takes about a month to tumble and polish the rocks, so it is best to keep this noisy tumbler in the garage or basement (as far away from the bedroom as possible).
Unlike the National Geographic booklet, this one does not include as much information about the actual stones. The Classic Crafts rock tumbler would be a great gift, along with a book about gemstones.
TIP: One of the best ways to try your new rock tumbler is to make your own sea glass. Check out the simple step-by-step guide in the article below:
Step-by-Step: Making Sea Glass With & Without Rock Tumbler
Why Buy A Rock Tumbler for Kids?
Making science interesting for kids from a young age is so valuable. It is always a great idea to buy them an educational toy that will make them curious about the natural world.
The natural process that creates gemstones takes thousands of years. With a rock tumbler, you can speed this up to a few weeks!
A rock tumbler will teach a child about geology, different minerals, the process of erosion, and how rivers tumble rocks. It brings these scientific concepts to life before their eyes.
The instructions that come with the rock tumbler are great reading material for kids. The National Geographic booklet contains lots of additional information about the minerals.
Rock tumblers also inspire creativity in children because naturally, they will want to create things with their new gemstones. They may even decide to sell their creations, so it can help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset!
The great thing about the rock tumblers in this article is that they are relatively inexpensive, so if your child’s interest in the hobby wanes, it is not the end of the world.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Few things get children as excited about science as seeing rough, brown rocks turn into beautiful, multi-colored gemstones. A rock tumbler is a brilliant educational toy for kids 8 years and older. Our top picks are (Amazon links):
The rock tumblers in this article are relatively inexpensive, and high enough quality to outlast most children’s interest in the hobby. They come with detailed instructions on how rock tumblers work and all the equipment and accessories required.
Your child is sure to enjoy this educational toy that will teach them about minerals and geology. They will be amazed when you explain that the rock tumbler accelerates a natural process that usually takes thousands of years, into only a month!
TIP: Glowing rocks fascinate kids as much as rock tumbling. Check out what rocks and minerals glow under UV light and blacklight in the article below:
12 Rocks & Minerals That Glow Under UV Light & Black Light