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Rocks and Minerals

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Rocks and minerals can be fun to learn about. Check out this creative collection of geology ideas.

rocks and minerals
Posted by: Wendy

Here are a few activities that I liked.
1. minerals are the ingredients of rocks. Make up a batch of cookies with choc chips, peanut butter chips, nuts, candies, etc. Pick apart with a toothpick or paperclip. What are the mineral (ingredients) or their rocks (cookies)?
2. Mix glue and play sand. Form into cookie shapes and let dry. These are mock sandstones.
3. Go to a gardening center where they sell decorative stones. I bought a big boxfull of differnt rocks (granite, slate, etc) for about 5 dollars.
4. Light a candle and let some of the wax melt. Let the liquid wax drip onto a piece of foil and harden. This is how igneous rock is formed. It is molten magma that hardens as it cools.
5. Have students do a birthstone report or craft
6. Drop vinegar onto chalk. The bubbling tells you that calcite is present.
7. Students can decorate a pet rock and write journal entries about its adventures

Cupcake Mining
Posted by: Emily4th

Here's the one on cupcake mining

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Cupcake Mining - Instructions
Posted by: Emily4th

For the cupcake mining, I buy about 5 of different mixes and add sprinkles, food coloring, etc. Then I use aluminum cupcake papers and fill them a scoop at a time of the different mixes and bake like normal. They also need to be frosted. I usually frost them with chocolate (soil) and add green sprinkles (grass). It is a lot of work but such a fun project. Usually I put the mixes on my wishlist, and only have to buy a few things.

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Rocks and Minerals Food lessons
Posted by: Emily4th

I was asked by someone about these lessons, so I thought I would share here.

Edible Rocks

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rock activities
Posted by: Rebecca

This is an activity I did today on the three types of rocks. You will need the following........

milk choc. chips
white choc. chips
butterscotch or peanut butter chips
ziploc bags(sandwich size)
ice water (in a cup)
pretty warm water (in a cup)
waxed paper

I usually set this up on a display table. I have them gather around but NOT too close since I have pretty warm water!

Show some chips and tell them that the chips represent broken rock.

Put each kind of the chips in its own ziploc. (I usually "zap" them beforehand in the microwave to get them soft but NOT melted)

Volunteers can use heat and pressure from their hands to form the rock chips into a single rock. (represents metamorphic).

Next, on waxed paper press each rock flat with waxed paper on top, then press each flat rock on top of each other to form layers(represents sedimentary) You can use a plastic knife to cut in half to expose the layers if you want.

Next take half of the rock and place it in a ziploc. Make sure the ziploc is fastened then place it in the hot water. If a couple of minutes it will melt. I usually dry the ziploc off and take it around so everyone can feel the melted "rock". Then I place the bag in ice cold water for a few minutes. Then the rock hardens. (the melting and cooling represents igneous). Then I let them feel the hard "rock". Next I break the rock into pieces and this represents weathering.

Then we enjoy eating a bite of "rock". They love this and it really helps them to "see" what happens.

I have a nice rock collection that I made in college that I share with them. I have magnifying glasses, a scratch test kit for them to experiment with them. Then I have them collect rocks for a collection to present at the end of the unit. I usually say 12 rocks, put them in an egg carton, and categorize them into the way they look (shiny, dull). They enjoy rock collecting.

Hope this helps!

Edible rocks are fun.
Posted by: Petunia

Make edible rocks...helps students see the difference in the three types of rocks. Igneous rocks---melt chocolate chips in microwave, (melted rock or magma) have a piece of wax paper on each desk and put a spoonful of melted chocolate on each wax paper for students to watch it cool and harden. *****Make Gumdrop Metamorphic rocks....Give each student 2 pieces of wax paper, give each student three different colored gum drops (cut into nine or ten pieces)---put the pieces of gum drops between the pieces of wax paper and have the students press the gumdrops together)remove the wax paper and discuss how heat and pressure make metamorphic rocks. Sedimentary Rocks...make and eat Rice Krispies. *****Make pet rocks Students bring a rock about the size of an egg. Use for experiments, do rocks sink or float. Be sure and have at least one rock that floats. Than make their rocks into Pet Rocks (teacher uses super glue ---to glue on two wiggly eyes.) Pet Rocks are their reading buddies and listen to students read. Students must read to their rock fifteen minutes each night to keep their rocks alive (we use this as part of our Book-It reading activity) (******Hard boiled egg cut in half with a red hot candy put in the center of the egg yolk = the different layers of the earth. Shell is the crust and is approximately 6-40 miles, the white represents the mantle and is approximately 1,800 miles, the yolk represents the outer core and is approximately 1,375 miles, the red hot is the very very HOT inner core and is approximately 1,750 miles. Read the book "The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth" this explains the layers of the earth and the composition of each. These are not my ideas they have been gathered here and there and put into my collection of ideas and activities.

Posted by: Rebecca

Here are a few ideas that I use during my Rocks and Minerals Unit...
Layers of the Earth- We write items that have layers(birthday cake, hamburger, pizza, etc.) and list the layers on the board under each. Then I give each student a ziploc with the following items...
chocolate covered cherry
sandwich cookie
fruit with pit
paper plate
wet paper towel(for clean up)
worksheet with each of the foods pictured
They have to take each item apart and find each layer. They have to label it on their worksheet.
This gets us started talking about layers--could be done in centers.

We read and discuss in our book about the layers of the earth.

On another day, we make a model of the earth and its layers with playdough.
We take a small piece of red playdough for the core and roll it into a ball. Next we take a small amount of yellow and gingerly place it around the red. This is the mantle. Then we put pieces of blue and green over all to make the crust. Then we slice the ball in two (with a plastic knife) to expose the layers of the earth.

I have another super idea that is hands-on for the rock cycle. It is a little involved to write but it is NOT hard to do in class! My kids love it and it involves food, once again! Email me and I will be happy to snail mail the page to you!

Paraffin Rock Cycle
Posted by: JohnV

This is a really fun activity, but it can be very messy. I wouldn't do it at all if you have carpets.


-- large amounts of paraffin
-- some broken/used crayons (for coloring)
-- small containers (we used restaurant-style portion cups from Sam's club)
-- small cheese graters (or pieces of metal window screen with taped edges for safety)
-- hot plates
-- large pots for heating water (big enough to put coffee cans into)
-- coffee cans for melting parafin


1. Melt the paraffin in the coffee cans. Do this in a double-boiler method by putting the cans into a hot water bath. Don't melt the paraffin over direct heat.
2. Color the melted paraffin with a few crayons.
3. The melted paraffin is "magma" and "lava" in the rock cycle. Pour some for each student. It will cool and harden into "igneous rock".
4. The "igneous rocks" can be "weathered" by breaking them and grating them into "sediments".
5. Put the "sediments" in layers (students can trade colors with each other) in the cups to show "deposition of sediments". Packing the "sediments" down into the cups very firmly with the warmth of the hand will cause them to turn into "sedimentary rock". These "rocks" are very crumbly and fragile.
6. The "sedimentary rocks" and other types of "rocks" can then be heated in the water bath for a few seconds at a time (avoid completely re-melting them) and then packed some more to form "metamorphic rocks".
7. Cross-links across the rock cycle can be illustrated by "weathering" the "sedimentary" and "metamorphic" rocks and repacking them.
8. In the end, the whole mess can be put back into the cans and re-melted to show the completion of the cycle.

I hope I have been clear enough for you to use this if you want. It is enormous fun, but if poorly contained it could cause you to lose favor with your custodians.


Mock Rocks
Posted by: Julie Burke

I'm sure you have received numerous responses about a mock rock recipe. I use the following
1 C flour
1/2 C salt
1 C sand
1/2 C water with food coloring of your choice
1 t alum
1/2 C colored fish tank rocks
pieces of broken shells
Mix all ingredients together except shells. Form cookie sized rocks. placing some shells in each one. Let air dry for a good 3 days.

science, growing crystals
Posted by: Terry Carlson

Sugar crystals
Boil water, stir in sugar until hits saturation point. Pour a small amount into baby food jars. Put a popsicle stick across the opening of the jar, hang a paper clip so it is emerged into the sugar solution. Hang the paper clip from a string that is tied to the popsicle stick. Place next to a window. The crystals will grow onto the paper clip. Adding food coloring is pretty fun as well. Students can predict their color of their crystals.

Salt Crystals,
Same instructions as the sugar crystals. Just use regular salt. I have also used sea salt. The salt crystals will form much faster than the sugar crystals. It is fun to do both and make predictions of which would form crystals faster based on the amount of sugar, salt they had to put into the boiling water to hit saturations point. This is a fun graphing project as well.

Rocks and minerals
Posted by: RC

Nick I teach this unit first thing too. One thing I have done that works well is I have a bunch of little rocks in a box for each pair of kids, their task is to find the mystery rock by following the clues. The clues introduce them to some terms and give them an understanding of categorizing by colour, hardness, etc. When they read a clue it gives them a type of rock to look for and discard - at the end they are left with the mystery rock. Clues included: 'I am not quartz (transparent clear or white crystal)';'I am not granite (a mixture of pink feldspar, black mica and quartz)'; I am not sedementary (formed in layers); I cannot be scratched with your fingernail;etc. according to whatever rocks I could find. I had them left with two kinds of black rock - the last clue 'I am not magnetic' - one kind was magnetite (hematite) the other the mystery rock - when students found the mystery rock they looked at rock poster and rock books to try to figure what type it was. I got rocks from the ground and from the gift shop at the museum.

rocks and minerals
Posted by: fiona

I have my third graders use a venn diagram to compare and contrast two samples of rocks and minerals. I list the various ways to compare and they list these on their Venn. Some of the ways to compare: weight(have a blance scale set up_ circumference, looks- bumpy/smooth, shiny/dull,color,etc...(it helps to generate a word bank ofr this part for some sutdents to use-post it on the BB), magnetic/non-magnetic,floats/doesn't float-be sure to have a piece of pumice- very surprising and fun!,scratch/hardness test- yes or no, does it scratch glas?, type of mineral-metamorphic etc... I hope this helps- it makes what I consider pretty dry stuff hands-on and dynamic.

Rocks and Minerals Writing Activity
Posted by: Karina

Try having your students write a mini-story from a rock's point of view telling how the rock was formed. This activity is an excellent way to teach about point of view and personification. You can make it as simple or as complex as you would like. I have done this activity for many years with children in grades 2-5, and find it to always be challenging and fun!

First, I gather a collection of different rocks (Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary). Luckily, my school's media center has a rock collection. All of the rocks are labeled with name and type. Then, I assign each student a rock. For lower ability or ESL students, I assign igneous rocks - they are the easiest to tell where/how they originated. For average students, I assign sedimentary rocks. Finally, for high ability or gifted students, I assign metamorphic rocks, which have much more abstract origins. Then, I tell each student the name and type of rock they will be writing about. I might also tell them a little about how the rock was formed,or I might ask them to research to find out the origins. Next, it's their turn to write a story from the rock's point of view, detailing how they were "born". Example:

I was comfortably asleep in my home, when suddenly it started to rumble, shake, and roar. I woke up and looked around to see all my other family members looking around with fear. "Here we go again," I heard my grandfather say. The next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. Smoke and the sun's rays were in my eyes. I couldn't see where I was going, but I knew my body was changing. I was no longer a metamorphic rock, I had become pumice, an igneous rock that cools very quickly while flying through the air during a volcanic eruption. This was terrible! A few years ago, a cousin of mine had become pumice, and now he was being used to scrub the feet of humans! Finally, I landed in close to a river, which made me feel better. If only I could become sediment in the cool, river bottom. Now that would be the life.

This was written by a fifth grade student. But be forewarned: Don't expect this kind of work from everyone. The students can then illustrate their stories, and you can bind them together in a class book. I titled mine "Rocky Autobiographies". Finally, place it in the classroom library for all to enjoy over and over again!

Rocks and Minerals stations
Posted by: mjh96

Hi, I do some rocks and minerals stations with my 4th graders. One is just observing the rock, using a magnifying glass. THey record things like color, different mineral components visible, size, shape, physical properties in general. The next station they inspect for luster, with a black construction paper background and a flashlight. At another they do a scratch test to determine the harness of the rock, and at the last one they do a streak test on the back of a piece of tile.
If you explain the directions ahead of time, and have copies of the directions at each station for the kids to refer to, each station can be done in 10-15 minutes.
My kids usually have a blast, and talk about the centers long after they are done. Hope this helps...good luck!

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Posted by: Mrs. O

I will teach my rocks and minerals unit in April and May. One of the things my kids really like is panning for gemstones. I purchase several gemstones from e-bay. Actually I have always had a parent volunteer to buy them. I put an equal amount of stones in a baggie mixed with sand and small natural aquarium rocks. Each child then gets to rinse their bag and find their stones. We use pie pans with holes and they pour water over it to pan for gemstones.

They also really like breaking geodes that I get from Oriental Trading. Some are better than others, but then we divide the good pieces up evenly after everyone gets a chance to crack one open.

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Geodes............if it's not too late!!
Posted by: 3grteacher

We break open Geodes and complete a packet about our research. Describing them before there open, cracking them open, and then what we found on the inside.

I couldn't find the site to buy the geodes this year, so we ordered them through Oriental Trading Co. It was 5.95 per dozen. Some of them are really small, so order enough so you have extra.

The kids really love it, and they get to take their rocks home to keep.

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Posted by: melanie

Have each of the kids bring in samples of rocks that they may have at home. Classify them as metamorphic, igneous, or sedimentary. You'd be surprised at the variety of rocks you will get in. Some might even have a rock collection. If you have a university in your area, you will be able to purchase a hardness testing kit for around $5-10. They are sold at the university or college bookstores for students in earth sciences. My university actually has a rock museum (in the earth and atmospheric sciences department) that the kids can go for a fieldtrip to. The grad students are also willing to share their expertise. Just a few ideas, if you need more, post.

erosion jug
Posted by: nmrose

Use two clear PLASTIC gallon jugs with good lids. Label the first jug "igneous" and select several basalt or granite rocks similar in size and color with the rocks in the second jug. Label the second jug "sedimentary" and fill with soft sedimentary rocks similar in size and color with the igneous rocks. Fill both jugs approximately 1/3 full with water. Have students write their observations and hypothesis before going outside.
Now go outside and apply an erosional force.
Have each student shake each jug as hard as they can fifty times. Let them count out loud as they shake the jugs and the rocks bump against each other. Explain that water is one of the greatest constant erosional forces in nature, and that all over the world, twenty-four hours a day, moving water applies erosional force on rocks and breaks it down into smaller parts, then carries away the broken bits as sediment to become ocean deposit.
Explain how the hardness of rocks effects their rate of erosion. Have students write their observations and conclusion comparing the two jugs after the "Great Shake-Down".