Rocks and Minerals – Background

Who hasn’t stopped to pick up a pebble, to admire or wonder about its color or texture, or just to toss it in your hand? Rocks speak to us, especially as children, and for some people, like geologists, sculptors, stone masons, and rock hounds, the fascination with rocks lasts a lifetime. Of course rocks can’t really talk, but they can tell us about the history of our rocky planet and its living creatures, if we know where and how to look.

Every pebble we find is part of the geosphere, the rocky covering of our planet. The Earth’s crust is a layer of rock from three to thirty miles thick that underlies Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Background

Rocks and Minerals – Activities

FOCUS: Studying rocks helps us to piece together the story of how the geosphere, the Earth’s rocky outer layer, has been shaped and changed over time. We’ll meet some rocks that formed by three different processes, examine some minerals we find in rocks, and look for fossils of ancient creatures. Underlying all the Earth’s land and water, rocks provide a foundation that supports the living world, gives clues about past life forms, and provides us with many materials that we use in our everyday lives.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about rocks and minerals.

In small groups, have the children sit in a circle. Give each child a paper sandwich bag containing a small rock. Have the children feel their rock without looking at it, noticing its smoothness, texture, any irregularities in the shape, if the edges seem rounded or sharp etc. Then, on the count of three, have the children put their bag in front of the person on their right. Now have them feel the pebble in their new bag, pass again, and repeat until everyone has had a chance to feel three or four different rocks, or continue until everyone has their starting rock back again. Finally, let the children take the rock they have out of the bag to look at it. Have them set all the rocks out in front of them so everyone can admire the whole collection. Ask children for ideas about why rocks can be so different from each other.

Materials: brown paper lunch bags, small rocks (from one to four inches in diameter) with different textures and shapes, one per student.

STATIONS: The following three activities are best done in small groups and so could be set up as stations: Rocks Up Close, Fossil Fun, and Mineral Mysteries or Upper Grades Challenge: Testing Minerals.

Objective: To examine granite, looking for the mineral crystals in it, and meet some other rocks.

Give each child a piece of granite to examine with a magnifying lens, looking for the different-colored mineral crystals in the rock. Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Activities

Rocks and Minerals – Puppet Show

The Rock Stars

Characters: Girl, Rock Hound, Granny Granite, Sandy Sandstone, Nora Gneiss.

Props: Sign with the word “GNEISS”; sunglasses attached to back side of rock puppets

Girl  Out you go, Howie, but remember, no digging for bones in the yard! (exits)

Rock Hound  Bones? I’m not digging for bones. I’m a Rock Hound and I’m digging for rocks! (sniffs) I think there’s one here – I’ll just dig a tiny little hole… (Granite appears) And here’s a rock with nice speckles – gray, black, white… Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Puppet Show

Rocks and Minerals – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Standards