Do you want to enjoy teaching rocks? Try merging online experiences with hands-on activities. Your third, fourth, and fifth grade students will have a blast!
How to Enjoy Teaching Rocks
Let the experts do the teaching! It’s digital learning at its best. Use these links and activities to energize your unit on rocks.
Types of Rocks
Invite a [virtual] guest speaker into your classroom! Geologist Devin Dennie explains the three types of rocks in this eight-minute video, Geology Kitchen: The Three Types of Rocks.
For more learning, try these online sites:
- Rocks and Minerals from Geography4Kids
- Types of Rocks from Kids Love Rocks
- Rock Cycle from Annenberg Learner Interactives
Now it’s time to bring in the rocks! You can use rock kits or find them outside. Number rocks with a permanent marker. (If it’s hard to write, paint a spot of correction fluid on it first.)
Start by showing this helpful video, Identifying Rocks (3 minutes). It will help students discriminate between sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks.
A variety of rock identification charts are available online. Encourage my students move from one site to another until they’ve identified the rock.
- What Kind of Rock Is This? from McDougal Littell
- GeoMan’s Rock Identification Summary (click on sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic for more specific identification)
- The Rock Identification Key by Don Peck (scroll down to begin the interactive identification key)
For a printable guide, try these:
- Dichotomous Keys from NSTA (click on igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary keys to download)
- Mineral and Rock Guide from the City College of San Francisco
- Rock Identification Flow Chart from University of Alaska Fairbanks (scroll all the way down for a great color graphic)
Let kids check their identification with clickable photographs of rocks from Geography.com.
View What’s a Fossil? (2.5 minutes) for a great introduction. Take a deeper look with Fossils (6.5 minutes) on the STEM Learning site. The end of the video shows how to make your own fossils in the classroom. (Plasticine is generally called modeling clay in the U.S.)
Have a little fun with Fossil Rock Anthem (3 minutes) from Science with Tom! This entertaining parody of Party Rock Anthem reinforces how fossils are layered in rock.
What’s free this week? This handy rock identification guide and recording sheet! Kids observe rocks and identify minerals found in them by evaluating six characteristics. They can then use the identification charts and guides above to name each rock.
The Complete Unit
I post new ideas, activities, and free downloads every week. Click here for an index (and to see what’s coming soon!)
Enjoy teaching rocks!