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I brought the Science Museum Crystal Mining kit from Amazon for my 7 year old nephew. I thought it sounded like a great gift, but I wasn't too sure how he would react as it didn't look quite as exciting as a computer game or action figure! Thankfully he was pleased with it and opened it the very same day.
The Crystal Mining kit comes packaged in a smallish/medium sized box and the contents include a block of plaster (with crystals hidden inside), a hammer tool (with safe knife at the other end), a small plastic magnifying glass, a thin brush, a pouch (to keep the crystals inside), a display box (to display and store the crystals) and a fact sheet about the different crystals. The kit is made by The Science Museum who also have other various kits available. I brought it for £8.99, it is currently selling on Amazon for £10.30. I think anywhere under or around the £10.00 mark is a reasonable price.
My daughter (who was 4 at the time) helped my nephew mine for crystals. There is no need to set anything up, just open the box and you're ready to go. The 'rock' that you need to mine from is actually a large lump of plaster. There are about 9 different real crystals hidden inside. It was quite easy to chip away at (but not TOO easy), especially with the help of the tool included. We also used a metal spoon! As you begin to chip away at the rock it becomes easy to pull lumps off and split the rock up (which makes things slightly easier and is also good if you have more than one child). My nephew and daughter really enjoyed themselves and were very excited to discover their first crystal. They played with the Crystal Mining kit throughout the afternoon (they discovered 90% of the crystals in one afternoon and my nephew finished it off the next day by himself) which kept them nice and quiet! They enjoyed dusting the crystals off and inspecting them close up with the magnifying glass, before putting them in the display case and discovering what sort of crystal they had found.
There are a lot of aspects I like about the Science Museum Crystal Mining kit - It teaches young children where crystals come from and can encourage interest in mining/fossils/crystals/archaeology. It's also fun, interesting and educational to find out about the crystals from the fact sheet. It requires patience, concentration and can give parents an afternoons peace! Children will feel a sense of achievement every time they find a crystal and will enjoy being able to keep the crystals (or 'treasure' as my daughter calls them). The only downside is that it's very messy. The plaster turns to dust when it's chipped off and gets everywhere. I would recommend putting down newspaper or a plastic sheet before you begin.
The Crystal Mining kit is suitable for children 5+ years (I'm sure supervised 4 year olds would enjoy it too). I would say the upper age limit is around 10 years of age, depending on the child. My daughter loved mining for crystals - she is patient and enjoys sitting down, taking her time, concentrating and getting creative (colouring, making things, doing puzzles etc) - if your child has this mentality I think they will really enjoy the Science Museum Crystal Mining kit. Most adults will probably enjoy helping out too... I did! I fully recommend.
Excavate your very own natural crystals. Build and add your own rock collection, and learn some fun characteristics of different crystals. It's a cool mineral rock digging kit. Contains one plaster block with eight natural crystals buried inside, one specially designed digging tool, one brush, one magnifier, one display case with cover and base card, pouch bag and detailed instructions with fun facts.