Monday, 5 August 2013

Learning about Rock Groups and The Rock Cycle

After we had learnt about the Layers of the Earth, we continued our learning by looking at the three different rock groups, doing some small experiments to understand how the different rocks form and learning about the rock cycle. 

We started our learning by reading The Magic School Bus Rocky Road Trip Chapter Book. As we read this book, we learnt about different famous rock structure such as The Grand Canyon as well as Uluru (Ayers Rock). We later completed a lap book based on this book (details at the end of this post).

We continued our learning about rocks by going rock collecting. We collected different rocks from a few different locations and looked at the differences between them. We found that the rock we had collected from the beach we smooth and round due to the weathering from the waves where as the rocks we found near a lake were very sharp and rough. 

We talked about the effects that weathering and erosion has on rocks and soil and how it helps rocks change. We watched this short YouTube clip on weathering and erosion to helped with our understanding and learning. We then started looking at the three different groups of rocks. I purchased this little rock kit from scholastic that has two samples of rocks from each of the three different rock groups. This gave us an idea of the different groups we were about to learn about.

Igneous Rock
To learn more about the three different groups of rocks, we watched this YouTube clip on Igneous Rocks and how they are formed. We conducted our own experiment to see how igneous rock are formed. Because Igneous rock is formed by cooling magma, we used hot, melting candle wax to demonstrate how hot magma cool and hardens as it cools. 

Sedimentary Rock
We started our learning about the second rock group, sedimentary rocks, by watching this YouTube clip. We conducted another experiment of how sedimentary rock are formed from sediments. Sedimentary rocks are formed by the compaction and cementation of sediments (which come from other rocks being weathered) so we crushed up biscuits to form sediments. We talked about how rocks are weathered and broken down into pieces of sediments. We then added sugar to represent different types of sediments and added butter to represent fossil fuels. We then added the compaction by pressing the sediments together as it would on a river bed. We hurried up the cementation process by adding it to the oven for a few minutes before removing it to see our sedimentary rock.

Metamorphic Rock
The final rock group, Metamorphic Rocks, is demonstrated in this YouTube clip. We conducted our own experiment on how metamorphic rock is formed. Metamorphic rocks are formed by rock undergoing a great amount of heat and pressure so we used a mars bar chocolate to represent a rock then applied (once it was in a plastic zip-lock bag) a lot of pressure and watched how it changed shape. We squeezed our rock between our fingers and even stomped on our rock to imitate pressure.

The Rock Cycle
I put together this activity sheet on the Rock Cycle to help with my own understanding of how rocks change. Although my son was happy to join in on this activity, it was a little bit beyond his understanding. But like most learning topics, we seem to revisit them again at a later time and gain further understanding about the topic. You can download a copy of The Rock Cycle activity sheet by clicking on the picture below. 

Lap book
I found this printable Rocky Road Trip printable lap book based on the Magic School Bus Chapter Book we had been reading. My son put together his lap book and recorded the information that he had learnt about rocks and the rock cycle. 

If you would like to see more activities ideas, check out my earth science pinterest board.

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  1. Awesome post; awesome lesson. Thank you!

  2. Implemented the 3 rock types activity with my 5th graders and they enjoyed it! Thanks!