Backyard Treasures

On Saturday, my friend Chester came over for a visit. He brought a bucket and a little shovel. He also had a screen that was attached to a wooden frame. My mom made him leave his muddy sneakers by the front door.

“Are you ready for the treasure hunt?” Chester asked me.

“Of course!” I said.

After we ate our snack, Chester picked up his bucket, his shovel, and his screen. I had my own bucket and shovel. But I did not have a screen.

“Don't worry,” Chester said. “You can share my screen with me.”

Chester put back on his muddy sneakers, and we went into the yard behind my house.

“What are we hunting for?” I asked Chester. He did not tell me what we were going to be hunting. “Is it a pirate's treasure? Is it a dinosaur?”

“No,” Chester said. “We are going to hunt for minerals!”

“Minerals?” I said. “But that's boring. There are rocks and minerals everywhere.”

“Yes, but we are going to hunt for certain minerals.”

“Okay,” I said. I still wished we were hunting for a pirate's treasure.

Chester and I walked over to the big patch of dirt by the swing set. We put our buckets on the ground.

“I think we should dig here,” Chester said. We kneeled down and began digging with our shovels. We put the dirt that we dug up into our buckets. Before long, we each filled up our bucket.

“Now we get to use the screen,” Chester said. He poured a few handfuls of the dirt from his bucket onto the screen. Then he grasped the wooden frame around the screen and gently shook the screen back and forth. Some of the dirt fell through the screen and back down to the ground. Soon there were just some little clumps of dirt left on top of the screen. There was also a dark gray rock.

“Is that what we are hunting for?” I asked Chester and pointed to the dark gray rock. Chester shook his head.

“Let's try some of the dirt from your bucket,” he said. Just like Chester had done, I poured a few handfuls of dirt on top of the screen. Then I gently shook the screen back and forth. The dirt fell through the screen and back down to the ground. Then there were little clumps of dirt and two dark gray rocks on my screen. There was also another lump of dirt.

Chester brought over the garden hose. He picked up the two dark gray rocks and tossed them back to the ground. Then we sprayed the water over the single lump left on the screen. As the dirt washed away, I saw that the stone was not gray at all. It was not brown either. It was a beautiful milky white color.

“What is it?” I asked Chester as I held up the stone.

“It is a mineral called quartz,” he said.

“I have a quartz crystal in my watch,” I told Chester.

“Yes, quartz is used for many different things. Some quartz is used in electronic goods. Some people even wear jewelry made of quartz beads.”

“I am going to put this on my nightstand,” I told Chester. He thought that was a good idea. We sifted through the rest of the dirt in our buckets and found two more pieces of quartz. Chester took one home with him, and we gave the other piece of quartz to my mom. She put it on top of her dresser. Now we each have a piece of quartz.

Sometimes before I go to sleep, I pick up the piece of quartz and look at it under the lamplight. Then I think about all of the treasures that are in my backyard. I wonder what other kinds of rocks and minerals might be waiting for me to discover them the next time I take my bucket and my shovel outside.


A nonliving thing found in nature. A rock is made of one or more minerals.

Back to Top


  1. What did the children discover in the backyard?
  2. What tools did the children use to find their discovery?
  3. What kind of treasures have you hunted for in your yard or in a park? What did you do with the object after you found it? What did it look like? Did you keep it? Did you use it to make something else? Write about a natural treasure that you have found.