Let's Rock IT

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SWBAT explain the three main groups of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

Big Idea

There are three main groups of rocks - let's explore them and see what we can learn.

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 there are three kinds of rocks: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.

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 the various kinds of rocks. This lesson is important to students because they get to use evidence about the rocks to discuss the various kinds of rock. They observe the size, color, and texture. They discuss how they are alike and different.

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.  In this lesson, groups communicate with each other about their observations about the various kinds of rocks.

Prior Knowledge:

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

Junior Scientists:

In my class, my students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets that they created early 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
  • Science Journals



10 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 the various kinds of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic." 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 Three Kinds of Rock PowerPoint. The PowerPoint is shown because it helps my visual learners. The students grasp taught concepts from the PowerPoint. During the PowerPoint, students learn various kinds of rocks. 

I pose these questions to the student: What are the kinds of rock? How are the rocks formed (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic)?   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 "We are on the Move" song and proceed to their groups' tables.


20 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 to lead the group. 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 Earth's Resource Unit folder, lab sheet, rocks, and hand lens. Groups are encouraged to use the hand lens to observe the rocks. 

At the table, the groups have the rocks placed on a teacher-created Rock Tracker sheet with rocks. This is done to help students identify the three kinds of rocks.

Teacher note: If you do not have the listed rocks, you can add other rocks.

The groups are instructed to create questions about the rocks. They are invited to refer to the question stem chart that is located at their table. I inform them to create at least 3 questions about the rocks, and the questions should reflect the investigation.

Then groups are informed to observe the rocks. I tell them: You notice that the rocks are placed on the rock tracker by name. You should observe the color,  texture, and size. Record your findings on the lab sheet. Here is a picture of a group working, Kinds of Rock- picture.

I play the role as a facilitator to check for students' understanding. I pose the following questions: What do you notice about the rocks? How are they alike? How are they different?  

Here is a video of the students observing the three main kinds of rocks.



20 minutes

At the students' desks, I call up the groups, one at a time, to share their results. This provides students the opportunity to communicate their findings to their peers. Students  learn how to appreciate others' perspectives. As the groups present, they should discuss similarities and differences between metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks.

Here are some examples of the groups' work-Kinds of Rocks-Lab Sheet (1) and Kinds of Rocks-Lab Sheet (2).

Science Journal

Students are provided their science journal. They are invited to write two things that they learned and tell one thing that they are unsure about. I analyze the science journals, so I can check for students' understanding and misconceptions. This informal assessment allows me to see what students did learn and did not learn. Let's Rock It-Student Work (Science Journal Entry). Here is another journal entry, exit ticket.