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Rocks of the Champlain Valley

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: Natural History & Geology

Grade Level: K-12

Common Core Standards:

RI5. 9. Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
W4.8. Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
SL4. 1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
SL4.4. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
RS9-10. 3. Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
RS9-10. 4. Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context.

Content Areas: Science

Recommended Length/Duration: 50 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will learn about the variety of rocks in the Champlain Valley by building a class rock collection.


  1. Present as a lecture or have students read Rocks of the Champlain Valley.
  2. Discuss a class project to build a rock collection and give instructions on how to collect samples:
    • Find pieces of rock that are freshly broken off a ledge. A ledge is a bed of rock that is sticking out of the ground, or the side of a mountain. It is not loose, but is still part of the bedrock below the soil. Pieces of rock that have been buried in the soil, or rolled in a stream or river are not good to collect. It is difficult to see what they are or what they are made of and you really don’t know where they came from.. Collect clean fresh specimens.
    • Make a label that has the name of the rock and the location where it was collected.
    • Assign a number to each rock.
    • Record in a notebook the name, location where you found it, and number of the rock.
    • Paint a small white rectangle on each rock, and write the rock’s number on it.
  3. Discuss safety while collecting rocks:
    • Always wear safety glasses or goggles when breaking rocks.
    • Use only hammers that are intended for breaking rocks.
    • Do not climb on dangerous ledges or on quarry walls.
    • Never enter mine tunnels or caves.
    • If possible, always collect with an adult.
  4. Identify and label samples as they arrive in class.
  5. Display samples in a display case, clear plastic fishing lure boxes, or mounted on a board.

Assessments: Informal Assessment of participation and understanding of key ideas.

Materials/Resources: Rock hammers, goggles, display boxes, labeling materials, Rocks of the Champlain Valley reading (pdf)

Special Considerations: Emphasize safety and the enjoyment of finding as many different kinds of rocks as possible. Remind students that size is not as important as variety.