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Hidden Gem: Apple Valley Minerals

When my boys were toddlers, it seemed a bit easier to turn a nothing day into a something day. At two and four years old, even a trip to the pet store to look at parakeets and hamsters was enough to wow them but now at nine and eleven, sometimes it takes a bit more … or does it?

The other afternoon we stopped by our local library and there was a display case filled with rocks, minerals and even petrified poop courtesy of Apple Valley Minerals. Many afternoons the boys and I have passed that small business, housed in a quaint slate blue cottage with a hanging sign on 7 Homestead Avenue in Smithfield. We decided to investigate.

When my boys were toddlers, it seemed a bit easier to turn a nothing day into a something day. At two and four years old, even a trip to the pet store to look at parakeets and hamsters was enough to wow them but now at nine and eleven, sometimes it takes a bit more … or does it?

East Smithfield Public Library

The other afternoon we stopped by our local library and there was a display case filled with rocks, minerals and even petrified poop courtesy of Apple Valley Minerals. Many afternoons the boys and I have passed that small business, housed in a quaint slate blue cottage with a hanging sign on 7 Homestead Avenue in Smithfield. We decided to investigate.

Kyanite Apple Valley Minerals

Once inside we were amazed at the vast collection of minerals and rocks from all over the world neatly displayed, aisle after aisle, in all sorts of cabinets, some even standing tall on the floor (amethyst geodes). The owner Sal Avella, explained that he has been selling minerals for over fifty years!  I purchased a “grab bag” ($10.) for the boys to take home, observe and perhaps spark an interest. Realizing this “teachable moment” for all of us, I circled us back to the library where we grabbed a stack of books about rocks, stones and minerals.

Library Books - Rocks and Minerals

At home we sorted feldspar from quartz, took notes, and looked up terms like “nomenclature.” Caught up in a lesson-plan style frenzy, I decided we must now make rock candy. I found a recipe online and cooked up its simple syrup base while my oldest was now hammering apart rocks in our backyard (wearing goggles) — alas, by now my youngest had moved on, having lost interest.

Bagging Rocks and Minerals

Seven days later finds our box of rocks and minerals labeled and at the ready as a shared collection but our rock candy is nothing more than a small floating sheet of sugar. The sweetest part of that day was when my oldest said, “Way to go Mom, for making a fun day out of nothing!” (I still got it.)

Rock Candy

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Written by Elyse Major