Rocks and Minerals

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SWBAT explain what rocks and minerals are and how they are used.

Big Idea

Have you every looked at a rock and seen it shining?

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.  Students also learn that rocks are made up of one or more minerals. The lesson is imperative because students learn that rocks  and minerals are nonliving part of Earth. They learn that rocks and minerals are useful natural resources that people use. This lesson is taught as a part of the Tennessee 2nd grade curriculum.

Science and Engineering Practices: 

SP 7 addresses engaging in argument from evidence. Students "listen actively to arguments to indicate agreement or disagreement based on evidence." In this investigation, students collaborate in groups to discuss similarities and differences about two rocks. This lesson is important to students because they get to use evidence about the rocks to take a stand from the taught content.

SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2. Students communicate information with others in written forms using graphs that provide detail about scientific ideas.  In this lesson, groups communicate with each other about their observations about rocks and minerals as they compare two rocks using a Venn diagram.

Prior Knowledge:

Students understand Earth resources. They know that Earth resources are air, water, plants, animals, and rocks. They know that these things are non-living things that are a part of Earth. Also, students know how to classify rocks by size, color, shape, and texture.

Junior Scientists:

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


  • Rocks
  • Hand lens
  • Lab sheet
  • Science Journals



15 minutes

At their desks, students sing a song that the class sings at the opening of each science lesson.  This song motivates and engages my Junior Scientists at the beginning of each science lesson. During science lessons, I call my students scientists to empower students and make them dreamers and doers.

I call on a student to read our "I Can" statement for the day. While using an over-sized microphone, a scientist says, "I can observe and compare minerals in rocks." The "I Can" statement helps students take ownership of the lesson as they put standards into context. The other students praise the student that reads the "I Can" statement by clapping.  I encourage students to give each other praise to boost their self-esteem.

 Students observe a Rocks and Minerals PowerPoint. The PowerPoint is shown because it helps my visual learners. The students grasp taught concepts from the PowerPoint. During the PowerPoint, students learn the following vocabulary: Earth resources, rocks, and minerals. I show the students body movements so they can easily remember the terms. This helps my kinesthetic learners who are my hand-on learners.

I pose these questions to the students: What are rocks made of? Why are rocks important to people? How are rocks used? Why are minerals important to people? Where can minerals be found?  I ask the students these questions so I can check for understanding. This serves as an informal assessment. Adjustments can be made, if needed.

 I say we are on the move and the students sing the "We are on the Move" song and proceed to their groups' tables.


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.

 They are provided with their Rock and Minerals Unit folder, lab sheet, two rocks, and hand lens. Groups are encouraged to observe both of their rocks with a hand lens.

Groups use a Venn diagram to compare their two rocks. They describe how their rocks are similar and different.  I inform the groups to list how many minerals they see and the color of the minerals. The Venn diagram is used to help groups to observe and compare minerals and rocks. Students can easily remember taught concepts when graphic organizers are used. It also creates an opportunity for my Junior Scientists to communicate their observation to their group members.

Comparing and Contrasting Rocks-video


10 minutes

While students are sitting at their desks, groups are called one at time to discuss their investigation. I permit students to share their findings so students can communicate to their peers.  As the groups share,  I am checking to make sure they discuss how many minerals they observed and the color of the minerals. Also, the groups discuss both rocks. It is important that scientists communicate their findings to others. When my students present, it provides them with the opportunity to work on oral communication skills.

Groups are encouraged to place their lab sheet in their Earth's Resource Folder. I take up the folders and I check to see if groups completed the lab sheet correctly.


This is the Rocks and Minerals-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 is a rock formed? How are rocks used? How are minerals used?  This is done to check each students understanding about rocks and minerals. Also, it  helps me reflect over my next rocks and minerals lessons or needed modification to this lesson.

Rocks and Minerals-Science Journal