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Rock Identification

Grade Level: K-8

Content Areas: Science

VT Grade Expectations
VT S 46: Students demonstrate their understanding of Processes and Change over Time within Earth Systems by…

NY Standards
NY Science Standard 4: Physical Setting Key Idea 2:

Duration 50 minutes

Students will learn to categorize rocks into the three basic types by closely examining their characteristics.

  1. Before the activity assemble a collection of 5-10 different rocks and number them with an ID tag. Commercial collections or found samples are fine as long as they represent sufficient variation.
  2. Divide students into work groups of 2-4.
  3. Review the three basic rock types, igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic, and the characteristics they will be looking for.
  4. Distribute the rock identification worksheets.
  5. Give each work group one rock sample and have students examine and identify it according to the identification characteristics.
  6. On their numbered worksheet they should record what they think the rock is.
  7. After each identification, rotate the rocks between groups until each group has identified each rock.
  8. On the board accept all the identifications for each sample first.
  9. Go back and discuss any disagreements and have students make a case for why they identified the rock as they did.
  10. If students are interested, have them use a more formal identification key to identify the specific rock name.

Assessment Informal Assessment of participation and understanding of key ideas.

Materials/Resources Hand Lenses, Rock samples, Worksheets

Special Considerations Some students become very interested in rock identification. There are many great field guides and internet rock identification keys available for individual students or teachers who want to explore this area in more detail.