Children enjoy collecting and learning about rocks from an early age.
Children collect and build with rocks from an early age. The third-grade science classroom presents the opportunity to combine curiosity with developing content-based knowledge. Inquiry-based science experiences in hands-on lessons expand the students’ knowledge of rocks and encourage them to build upon prior knowledge and experience to achieve higher-level thinking skills.
Rocks Versus Minerals
Some students have difficultly identifying the differences between a rock and a mineral. A side-by-side comparison allows students to see the differences firsthand and use grade level-specific vocabulary to describe those differences.
Put students into groups. Give each group a box with a variety of rocks and minerals. They must classify the materials as rocks or minerals. Have each group present their rocks and minerals explaining the criteria used to classify their materials.
Sedimentary Rocks Are like Chocolate Cookies
A cookie illustrates how sedimentary rocks form.
Sedimentary rocks form when small particles of sand, silt, mud and shells or bones are mixed together and remain buried for long periods of time. You can use a chocolate chip cookie to help students conceptualize how these elements combine to form a new product. Brainstorm a list of ingredients included in a chocolate chip cookie, listing them on chart paper. Give each student a chocolate chip cookie and a toothpick. Instruct the children to try and separate each element of the cookie. After attempting to separate the ingredients, discuss the successes and difficulties they experienced. Compare how sedimentary rocks and chocolate chip cookies differ and how they are alike.
Rock Cycle Writing
Writing about science helps students become comfortable with concepts and vocabulary.
Take your students on a rock hunt around the playground. Have everyone look for a rock the no smaller than a gumball, no larger than a baseball. When everyone collects a rock sample, return to the classroom. Identify each rock as sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic. Review the rock cycle, pointing out the similarities and differences in each rock‘s cycle. Have the students use information they have learned about studying rocks to write a narrative detailing a rock’s trip through the rock cycle.
Rock Formation Songs
Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group a rock category: sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic. Each group must write a jingle to the tune of a familiar song that explains how that rock typed is formed. The groups must teach their song to the rest of the class.