Classifying Rocks

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SWBAT classify rocks based on physical properties.

Big Idea

How do you classify rocks?

Setting the Stage

National Science Teaching Standards

Earth Science

  • Types of resources

Resources are things that we get from living and nonliving things to meet our needs such as: rocks, soils, water, and air. Rocks can be described according to their origin, size, shape, texture, and color.  The lesson is important because students learn that rocks are nonliving part of Earth. Students learn how rocks can be different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures which is a part of the Tennessee 2nd grade curriculum.

Science and Engineering Practices: 

SP 1 addresses asking questions. Students ask questions that can be answered by an investigation. Students observe rocks with a hands lens. They describe what they see. Also, they ask and answer questions about their investigation.

SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2. Students communicate information with others in written forms using graphs that provide details about scientific ideas.  This lesson affords the students the opportunity to observe rocks to describe their origin, size, shape, texture, and color.

Prior Knowledge:

Students understand Earth resources. They know that Earth resources are air, water, plants, animals, and rocks. They know that some of these resources are nonliving things that are a part of Earth.

Junior Scientists:

In my class, my students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets that they created earlier in the year during their experiments. I call them scientists to empower them to major in science and math related careers. Also, we sing "It is Science Time" before each lesson.  


  • Rocks
  • Hand lens
  • Folder
  • Science Journal


10 minutes

While students are sitting at their desks, they play a game.  I go around the room and I have the students complete this statement, I can use rocks for________.  I can use rocks for, video. They can not repeat what another student has stated. This is done so I can hear a variety of responses. The game also helps my auditory students.  Students learn to be great listeners and speakers.

I say, we are on the move and the students start to sing, "We Are On The Move" and they begin to move to their group's tables. 

At the tables, the student complete a K-W-H-L chart about rocks and minerals.  I asked the groups to complete the K section.  I pose the question: What do you know about rocks?. Then the groups share out so I can record their responses on the class K-W-H-L chart. Then I have the students tell what they want to learn about rocks and minerals in the "W" section. The groups share their results with the class so I can record. The groups are invited to complete the "H" section. I inform them to tell how they what to learn about rocks and minerals. The groups share their responses. The K-W-H-L chart helps me to access students prior knowledge, and it helps to guide my instructions.

The groups are provided a rocks and minerals folder to keep their K-W-H-L chart and other lab sheets from the Rock and Mineral Unit.





15 minutes

While students are sitting at their groups' tables, they assign their groups' roles such as: a person who records, manager, and reporter. I permit the students to select their own roles so they can select their strengths and weaknesses.  This also boosts students' self esteem and encourages them to make academic improvements. I select the leader who demonstrates leadership qualities.  The students are provided group labels and clothes pin clips. They are encouraged to wear their labels. I provide the students with the group labels  to help them identify their roles. Also, it helps promote a positive classroom environment with little disruption.

The groups are provided with their lab sheet, a bag of rocks, and hand lens. They are encouraged to look at the rocks with a hand lens. As a group, they are to describe what they see. Groups are encouraged to discuss, how are the rocks alike, and how the rocks are different.  The lab sheet supports the group's discussion.

Groups are invited to classify the rocks into groups. They write their groups on the provided chart that is located on the lab sheet. I inform the groups that they can classify by their own sorting rules such as: size, shape, color, or texture. Groups are asked to record how many rocks are in each group.  I permit the groups to classify the rocks in their own way to provide ownership of their own learning.


Comparing and Contrasting Rocks-video


10 minutes

Groups are summoned to the carpet. I call on one group at a time to share their chart with the class. The reporter is encouraged to do a majority of the talking. The reporter discusses how the groups put the rocks into groups. When the students present, the students should demonstrate their knowledge of the content. I want students to learn that rocks can be classified by origin, size, shape, texture, and color.  Therefore, I am actively listening for their sorting rules. If groups do not discuss the rules that they used, I work with them one -on-one to ensure their academic success.

I inform the groups to put their lab sheet into their Earth's Resource folder. I take up the folders and I check the groups' lab sheet. I am checking to make sure that the lab sheet is completed successfully. 

Classify Rock-Lab Sheet-Student Work



10 minutes

At the students' desks, I provide them with their science journal. The students answer these questions in their journal: How did your group classify rocks? How are rocks alike? How are rocks different?  This is done to check each student's understanding about rocks. Also, it  helps me reflect over my next rocks and minerals lessons or modification from this lesson. This lesson helps to build knowledge on the the next two rock lessons, Rocks and Minerals and Kinds of Rocks. In the Rock and Mineral lesson, the students observe and compare minerals in rocks. In the lesson, Kinds of Rocks, the students observe sedimentary, ingenious, and metamorphic rocks.


At the end of the unit, the students complete their K-W-H-L chart. The students completed the chart by telling what they learn. The K-W-H-L chart gave students ownership of their own learning.

Rock and Mineral K-W-H-L Chart