In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about rocks and minerals. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Rocks and Minerals topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching Rocks and Minerals
Go on a rock hunt with your whole class. You can take a walk around the school grounds or go to a park together. Have each student bring back a rock to share with the whole class. Discuss the properties of the rocks and compare their size and shape. Have small groups take turns sorting the rocks by different properties, like size, texture, color, luster, and hardness. Let the students decide how best to display their collection. Students can do research at the library or online to find out what minerals might be in their rocks.
Rocks Around the Clock
After the class has viewed the movie and had some discussion about different things made of rocks and minerals, send your class out into the school building to find objects that are made of minerals or rocks. Let students research how minerals are used in your school, so they can learn that many door and cupboard hinges are made with steel, lights with glass, and mirrors with quartz. You might assign small groups to visit different rooms in the school such as the bathroom, the cafeteria kitchen, the gym, the music room, and the art room. When they return, ask the groups to share the things they found.
Rock or Not
Bring a collection of items from nature into the classroom, including a variety of rocks and minerals like sand; salt; pebbles; crystals; animal byproducts such as feathers, shells, fur, or bones; and plant matter such as tree bark, pine cones, leaves, flowers, and seeds. Put the collections into small bags and ask groups of children to sort them into groups by animal, plant, or mineral/rock. Then ask each group to explain to the class how they sorted their items.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Rocks and Minerals
Trip to the Museum
Most natural history museums have a section about rocks and minerals. Walk through the exhibit with your child. Discuss how rocks and minerals are useful and valuable. You can extend this lesson to the exhibit on fossils. How do rocks provide clues about what life was like long ago on Earth? What does your child think people in the Stone Age used rocks for? Make sure your child brings a notebook to take notes and sketch.
Accompany your child on a walk and collect rocks together. Be sure to check that it is acceptable to gather rocks, since it is sometimes forbidden in certain areas. Pick up rocks of different colors and sizes. Then bring the rocks home and have your child sort them in different ways. Ask him or her to discuss their sorting rule out loud. Then you take the rocks and sort them and have your child figure out the sorting rule. After you each take several turns, your child can use the rocks to make a rock garden or a rock sculpture in your yard or in a local park or community garden.