Some rocks look plain, but each has a place in the Earth system.
For younger students, hands-on science activities often provide more excitement and stimulation for learning than do straightforward lecture lessons. Rocks, crystals and gems are an important lesson in today’s science world because of the implications that geology has for the natural future and survival of our Earth. With some hands-on lessons and interactive activities, teaching students about rocks, crystals and gems can be interesting for both students and teachers.
Creating a classroom exhibit is a great way to get every student involved and have each one contribute her own understanding and interest in the subject. Students can work in groups on different sections of the project: rocks, gems, crystals, how they are formed, the differences between them, each one’s role in the environment, and where each is found. To teach the children, you could introduce the subject with photos and short blurbs about each, and then you could have each student (or group) continue research at home. Have the students present their research to each other in class, and then bring the pieces together (including dioramas, poster board displays, drawings and photos) to create an exhibition that other classes can visit to learn about rocks, crystals and gems as well.
Creating a classroom diorama with different types of rocks that displays the different layers of the Earth is a great way to create a lasting lesson about rocks, crystals and gems. Every student can contribute a piece of the diorama and a fact to go with it. To build a large diorama instead of a shoebox diorama, use a clear plastic storage bin. This way, students can see all the layers once the diorama is complete. A further lesson can include dismantling the diorama when the science unit is over and discovering how crystals and gems are mined.
Encouraging exploration and discovery outside the classroom can be incorporated into the classroom by creating a rock collection. Students can create individual collections, or the class as a whole can create collections. To start, you could show slides of different rock, gem and crystal types and have the students point out the similarities and differences in order to gain an understanding of what makes each unique. Then, hand out work sheets in which the students answer questions about each type. When students go home, they can search for different rocks outside, identify them using their worksheets, and then bring them into the class.
In Class Game Shows
Game shows, such as classroom versions of Jeopardy, are often great for reviewing before tests or quizzes. You can use different categories referring to rocks, crystals and gems, and create a point system for easy-hard questions. To get students involved before the game, have them create some of their own questions and bring them in to share with the classes. Bringing in rocks, diagrams and photos is an easy way to include a visual and/or hands-on element to a game show.