homeschool, STEM

Rocks & Minerals Lesson: A Geology Unit for Elementary

What is the difference between rocks & minerals anyway?  This lesson will not only explore the difference but will lay the foundation of the child’s fluency with the Periodic Table. This lesson covers many objectives, and depending on your child’s prior knowledge, it can easily be divided into two days for greater focus and mastery.

This Pin Rocks!


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Learning Objectives

  • How do rock layers form
  • Identify Minerals utilizing properties
  • Identify Rocks utilizing properties
  • Classify Rocks & Minerals by color, shape, & texture
  • Identify and Compare Properties of an object
  • Classify Rocks as Ingenious, Sedimentary, or Metamorphic

Day 3: Rocks and Minerals


Story Time

Today’s story, A Rock is Lively, gives some great introductory knowledge in the world of rocks and minerals.  I am absolutely in love with the illustrations, and this book is brimming with facts and information that will help build the confidence of knowledge before diving head first further into our lesson.  There is so much information that goes into this lesson that repetition and a variety of media will greatly help our learners build their understanding, mastery, and confidence.

Be sure to take a pause at the close of this book to ask for their thoughts.  What did they find most interesting, or a little confusing?  What are they eager to learn more about?

The Lesson

So simply put, what is the difference between a rock and a mineral? 

Minerals is a chemical composition of a single mineral.

Rocks are the natural composition of multiple minerals.

The following video does a great job demonstrating the transformation from Mineral to Rock:

What makes a mineral?

On each child’s workspace I had printed a children’s periodic table that had both the symbols, color coded categories, and full names of each element.  We took some time to discuss the chart, their thoughts on it, their ideas, and questions.

It did not take long for them to decipher the states of matter, what are solid, liquid, or gas?  They were also quick to point out elements familiar to them, i.e. chlorine, carbon, and oxygen.


We then progressed in the slide show provided above to really illustrate how these elements combine to create various minerals. 

For those who want a less digital and more tactile experience, I did find these amazing blocks for my classroom on Amazon!

And what’s a science lesson without or favorite Sci Show?

Then we headed outside with our hammer and protective eye wear to give breaking geodes a try ourselves!  We used the National Geographic Geode kit found here.

What makes a Rock?

Finally, for Rocks I decided to grab the snacks and let the kids watch the Bill Nye Episode I teased as an introduction, in its entirety.

Followed up with this fun and FREE comprehension assessment form

More ideas and Inspriations



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