Rock Cycle


Rock Cycle (3rd-5th) 

This lesson provides an overview of the Rock Cycle, highlighting common rocks and the processes that form them. Students categorize rock sample cards, and then play a matching game to determine the rock name and if they are sedimentary, metamorphic, or igneous. Students then use this knowledge to identify rock samples. This lesson includes a virtual activity, and students will need access to their own devices if working in a group. All students must have their own devices to complete this lesson.

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Lesson Overview

Students will:

  • Make observations about their rock samples
  • Categorize rock sample cards, and then match them to their rock names based on observations and descriptions.
  • Debrief the matching game, learn vocabulary, and match rock samples to the game board.
  • Watch their instructor demonstrate the Rock Cycle using crayon shavings and a lighter

Lesson Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain how sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks form
  • Discuss how rocks change from one form to another over geologic time 

This lesson is aligned with these Next Generation Science (NGS) Standards.

Standards Covered

Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI)

ESS2 Earth’s Systems – ESS2.A Earth’s Materials and Systems

  • (3rd-5th) Four major Earth systems interact. Rainfall helps to shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller pieces and move them around.

Science & Engineering Practice (SEP) 

  • (3rd-5th) Constructing Explanations – Identify the evidence that supports particular points in an explanation.
  • (3rd-5th) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information – Read and comprehend grade-appropriate complex texts and/or other reliable media to summarize and obtain scientific and technical ideas and describe how they are supported by evidence. 

Crosscutting Concept (CCC)

  • (3rd-5th) Patterns – Patterns can be used as evidence to support an explanation
  • (3rd-5th) Structure and Function – Different materials have different substructures, which can sometimes be observed
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