by Linda Sebastian Clermont
Northeastern School District
is actually four activities in one inquiry. In What Are Rocks and How Are
They Formed? students observe a variety of rocks and classify them based
on their observable properties and/or characteristics. In How Can Rock Properties
Help to Identify Rocks? students further classify rocks by identifying
and comparing their mass, dimensions, and volume. In How Do Rocks Cycle
on the Earth? students play a game to learn more about the three types
of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary) and how they cycle from one type
to the next over time. In My Life As a Rock students create stories
to show their knowledge of the rock cycle. The Family Page extends this learning
by inviting parents to facilitate home and community observations and discussion
related to rocks in the environment and their various uses in construction.
Day 1: What Are Rocks and How Are
They Formed? (60 minutes)
Copy a class set of the
Thinksheet, Data Sheet #1 (two copies per student), and Family Page. (See
Ready to Print.)
Select several rocks to
bring in for the class to observe (at least two per team).
Gather the following materials:
Mystery Object Box
masking tape (to label student
Order a copy of The
Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth from your local library. (See
Introduce Hard Rock Café
to your students. "This activity challenges you to..."
hypothesize about how rocks
record observations about various
rocks, their composition, and their unique characteristics in an efficient
and accurate manner
appreciate the beauty and order
have fun learning
Tell students what behaviors
you expect of them before, during, and after the lesson.
speaking in appropriate voices
proper use and clean up of
Explain how this activity
class investigations and research
Put "Pet Rock"
in Mystery Object Box and have class guess contents.
Read the story The
Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth. (See Related
Distribute the Thinksheet
and give students a moment to complete the "Think It Through" section.
Share several student
responses and then have teams of students look up "rock" in the
dictionary and share meanings.
Ask, "What do you
know about rocks? What do you wonder about rocks?" List responses
on charts or on the blackboard in two columns.
Direct students to complete
the "First Hypothesis" section of their Thinksheet.
Group students into pairs.
Give each pair a hand
lens and two rocks from the class collection and have them carefully observe
Discuss the results of
their observations and record the properties of rocks they discover on the
board. (Example: "My rock is pinkish."-- color. "My
rock breaks off easily."-- hardness.)
Distribute the Rock Properties
Data Sheet #1 (see Ready to Print). Have the students
list the properties in the column and complete an observation of two rocks.
Encourage students who finish early to sketch their rocks on the back of the
Label their rocks with numbers so they can use the same rocks for further
Day 2: How Can Rock Properties Help
to Identify Rocks? (45 minutes)
Copy a class set of the
Rock Properties Data Sheet #2. (See Ready to Print.)
Gather the following materials:
vinegar and eye droppers
(for the limestone test)
graduated beakers and scales
(for the mass and volume tests)
Review the previous day's
Redistribute rocks to
Share the story of Archimedes
and how he discovered if the king's new crown contained the correct amount
of gold. (See Background Information.)
Direct students to measure
and record the weight and volume of their two rocks and test them for limestone
content by following the directions on Rock Properties Data Sheet #2 (see
Ready to Print). Note: Students who finish early should
choose a rock or mineral to learn more about and record their findings on
the bottom of their Data Sheets.
Day 3: How Do Rocks Cycle on the
Review the Rock Cycle
movie on BrainPop.com (see Related Resources). Note:
BrainPop will only allow two viewings per day from the same computer without
a subscription, so you may want to review this movie the day before you share
it with your class.
Gather samples for the
three types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic).
Introduce terms for the
three types of rocks: sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic.
(See Background Information.) Note: The Eyewitness--Rocks
and Minerals book (see Related Resources) has excellent
photos of the three rock types.
Share examples of the
three types of rocks (if available at your school).
Encourage students to
bring in one interesting rock they find or their rock collections (if they
Day 4: My Life As a Rock (45 minutes)
Make a transparency and class
set of theMy Life as a Rock information page (see Ready
Share student rock collections.
Review the rock cycle
by having students fill in the missing terms on the My Life as a Rock
information page and discuss the processes.
Instruct students to
write in diary or story form, their life history as a rock (in first person).
Have students tell how they were formed and how they have changed over time,
including how they came to be where they are now.Encourage them to
include several of the rock cycle stages.
Direct students who finish
early to use research time to try to identify their rocks and learn how they
were formed or to choose another rock or mineral from reference books or a
mineral kit to research.
Share research information
Day 5: Put It All Together (45 minutes)
Summarize the Main Points
Rocks can be identified by
their properties or characteristics.
There are three types of
rocks: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.
Rocks cycle from one type
to another over time.
Complete the "Make Some Sense of It" portion of the Thinksheet.
Compliment students for
appropriate behaviors during the lesson.
Formative: anecdotal notes
of individuals/groups in progress, incidental questioning of students' observations,
quality of students' review questions and answers.
Have your students perform the
Puppet Plays Erosion (pages 256-257) and Pebbles and Rocks (pages
264-265) from the book Hands-On Nature. (See Related
Observe geodes and crystals.
Make "geodes" in egg shells by coating the inside of egg shells
with saturated Borax solution or grow crystals on pipe cleaners in a jar filled
with the Borax solution.
Practice measuring and data collection
by weighing various rocks and measuring their mass by dropping them in water
and measuring the volume of the water displaced.
Perform the Mohs' Scale hardness
test on rock specimens by scratching them on the designated substances.
Break some rocks open by wrapping
them in newspaper and hitting them with a hammer. Be sure to wear safety goggles.
Have all onlookers stand a safe distance away and also wear safety goggles.
Observe differences between inside and outside appearance.
Get some samples of pumice rock
and float them in water. Discuss how the air trapped in the rock allows it
Have students write and illustrate
a picture book explaining how one type of rock is formed.
Put several rocks in two plastic
jars filled with water. Have each student shake one jar 100 times. Do not
shake the other jar. Examine the water from each jar. Ask students to relate
the tiny particles in the shaken jar to erosion and what happens to rocks
in a creekbed. Note: Pieces of brick work well for this activity.