These tools help you identify minerals! The tools include hand lenses (lower left), a penny for testing hardness (center), a streak plate (lower right), and an identification guidebook (top).
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe

Make Your Own Mineral Identification Kit!

Stick these things into a small bag and take them wherever you go hunting for minerals.

  1. A hand lens lets you look closely at small mineral crystals or fossils.
  2. A small, white porcelain plate is used for a streak test.
  3. A penny and a small glass plate are useful for testing hardness.
  4. Kits with minerals that are labeled with their names can be handy. Compare minerals that you find to minerals in the kit.
  5. Printouts of the examples of crystal shapes from Windows to the Universe (or see if your book has similar pictures) allow you to identify crystal shapes of minerals.
  6. Bring a pad and a pencil to write down where you find minerals.
  7. A book about rocks and minerals that has nice color pictures and language that you understand

Last modified March 13, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Books to Help You Identify Minerals and Rocks!

Are you going out to search for rocks and minerals? How will you know what types you have found? Identification guidebooks for rocks and minerals can be very helpful. Pick one that has nice color pictures...more

What’s That Mineral?

Spotting minerals is fun! There are many different types of minerals. Each has a different name and special traits. You can learn more about minerals by looking closely at them to understand their special...more


This mineral is called quartz! Sometimes it looks white like milk but usually it looks clear like glass, sometimes with a little pink or gray tinge of color. You can find crystals of quartz in many different...more

Mica Minerals

Mica minerals make some rocks sparkle! Look for them in your igneous and metamorphic rocks. Do they make your rocks sparkle? They break into flat plates because they have cleavage. ...more


This is a feldspar mineral! Look for it in igneous rocks where it looks like white or pink crystals. You might find it in other types of rocks as well. ...more


The mineral that is green is called olivine! Look for it in igneous and metamorphic rocks. In this picture, olivine is filling a hole in the igneous rock. ...more

Type of Minerals

There are at least 2000 minerals on Earth. That's a lot of minerals! But you don't need to know all of them to spot the minerals lurking in the rocks of your backyard. That is because only a small number...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA