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Tag: coal

Continuing with the coal theme in The Rag Coat rowing, today we explored coal a bit more and learned that Colorado is ranked 8th in coal production in the US. We see coal trains everyday, so naturally we wondered where the coal is in Colorado. Looking at this map of Colorado Mines, we can see it is in the western side of the mountains that we live in. The black and white icons in the map are coal mines.

Colorado Mines

Colorado Mines

Here is a train full of coal resting in Rollinsville, CO, our hometown. We took this photo today.

Coal train in Rollinsville

Coal train in Rollinsville

And a closer look…



We also checked out this “Coal Areas in the United States” map from to see where coal is found in the United States. Satori recognized the Appalachian mountain area, which of course is rich with coal, as well as our very own Rocky Mountain range.

Coal Areas in the United States

Coal Areas in the United States

The  Kentucky Coal Education website also has lots of coal education ideas, games, and videos. Also the American Coal Foundation has lesson plans about coal for teachers. They used to even send homeschoolers free samples of coal. Be sure to check these website out if you read or row The Rag Coat!

As a fun activity to kick off our Five in a Row rowing of The Rag Coat, I decided to set Satori off in the coal mines and go mining for coal. First, I had to make some coal! This is a very easy recipe and you should have your coal in less than 90 minutes.

Lumps of Coal

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Black Paint and brush
  • Gold paint (if you want to add gold nuggets)


Mix ingredients and knead for two minutes. Mold into lumps of coal shapes. Place on foil covered sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for an hour or until hard. Wait until cool, then paint.

Lumps of coal

Lumps of coal

Then, for mom, the fun part begins! I planted the lumps of coal and gold nuggets in the basement, which has black rubbery floors, perfect for coal to blend in. Plus it was night-time. 🙂 I hid the black coals in easy to find spots. The gold nuggets were a bit more challenging. And I threw in some glow-in-the-dark “rare dinosaur eggs”.
Easy to find black coal, with a small light illuminating its hiding place…


Another easy to find on this big blue glob…


Hidden in an elliptical foot…


A glowing dino egg camouflaged on a glowing “rock”…


Finally it was time for Little Miss Coal Miner to arrive. As she descended down the “mine shaft”, she was presented with her mining headlamp, extra flashlight, and her coal basket. (If you have a helmet, that would make it even more authentic.)


It was dark, so we were lucky for our mining light equipment.


I told her that each find was worth a certain amount of points. Gold nuggets were 100 points, dinosaur eggs were 10 points each, and black coals were 1 point each. A black light helped illuminate the tiny dinosaur eggs, who were in higher places than the coal and nuggets.

(During this time, I had to turn on the outside light, as a bear was prowling around…)


The little Coal Miner found them all!


To throw in a math lesson, I had her lay them out using place value – golds were hundreds, eggs were tens, and coals were ones. And just like in our Math-U-See lessons, she had to write the place values and say the number – Three Hundred Forty Nine!