While investigating the properties of rocks, students will create a classroom rock collection.
- Everybody Needs A
Rock, by Byrd Baylor
- Egg carton for each
student (Ask students in
advance to bring these
in. Cardboard egg
cartons work best if you
want to paint them.
Otherwise it doesn't
- Rock cleaning station
with water, an old
toothbrush, and a
permanent marker to
label rocks with student
- A space to keep the egg
- Sorting cards
- Venn Diagram sheets
- Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor; ISBN 0-689-71051-8
- Grandmas's Button Box, by Linda Williams Aber;
- If You Find a Rock, by Peggy Christian; ISBN 0-15-239339-0
- Let's Go Rock Collecting, by Roma Gans; ISBN 0-06-445170-4
- Rocks and Minerals Sticker Book, by Alan Woolley (E D C
Publications, Spotter's Guide Sticker Books Series);
Background for Teachers
Rocks have many different properties. The properties of rocks will
determine how rocks are used. Rocks can be sorted and classified
according to their properties. Rock collecting is a popular hobby. Many
people enjoy collecting rocks. People who collect rocks for fun are
called "rock hounds."
Intended Learning Outcomes
5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
Invitation to Learn
Ask students, “Does anyone have a collection?” “Why do you like to
collect _____?” Read Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor.
- Explain to students that they will start a classroom rock
collection. Explain the general rules:
- Rocks should not be purchased at a store.
- Rocks should fit in one of the egg carton compartments.
- Ask permission before taking a rock from private property.
- Try to get rocks from different locations.
- At this point you may want to decorate your “rock” cartons and
put them in an area where they will be safe. When students
bring in rocks, allow them to clean them, label them, and put
them in their cartons.
- When everyone has several rocks, it is time to play the super
sort. Get in a giant circle. (You may want to do this in the
gym.) Ask each student to take off one shoe and place it in the
center of the circle. How many ways can the shoes be sorted?
Sort them by color, by size, by design, by material, by how they
are fastened, etc. Have the students move into groups depending
on the shoe that they are wearing. (If you are doing this for a
physical education activity, have them use different locomotor
skills as they move from group to group, such as skipping,
jumping, galloping, etc.) Next, ask what would happen if you
decided to sort using two attributes? Hopefully the students will
decide to use two intersecting circles—a Venn Diagram. Try a few
of those examples such as, black shoes and Velcro®, or white laces
and zigzag soles.
- When the shoe sort is complete, go back to class and try the sort
with rocks. Ask the students to brainstorm some attributes of the
rocks. Write the attributes on the board or overhead (e.g.,
speckled, smooth, brown, rough, shiny, striped, black, white, etc.).
Have some attribute sorting cards already prepared. Pass them
out to the students by table. As a group, ask the students to sort
their rocks into the Venn Diagrams. When the groups are
finished, have students walk around the room and observe the
different sorts. They may repeat this activity several times.
- Once students have completed the activity using a Venn Diagram
have them sort their rocks using a bull’s eye graph, where the
rocks in the center of the bull’s eye have all of the attributes of
the outlying rings.
- Some students may be ready to try a three circle Venn Diagram.
Ask them what happens if they choose attributes that are
completely opposite of each other like smooth and rough. Would
they be able to put any rocks in the intersecting area?
- For students with special needs you may want to include a picture
on each of the attribute sorting cards. For example, if it says
speckled, draw an illustration of a speckled rock. You may also
want to create a word list to hang in the classroom, which would
include the same pictures.
- Using the attribute sorting cards, sort the cards according to
hardness, color, texture, layering, and particle size.
- If you don’t have space to clean or store egg cartons, you may
want to have the students collect, clean, and label their rocks at
home with their family and then bring the completed collection to
school in the egg carton.
- Students could bring in rock collections from home for show and
tell. If they have a large rock or a precious rock they could
display it in the classroom.
- When someone goes on vacation or on a business trip, ask
families to bring rock samples to add to the class collection. Be
sure to have them label where the rock was located and remind
families not to collect rocks in national parks or protected places.
- Students could draw a Venn Diagram in their Rock Journals.
Have them choose two attributes and draw what a sample rock
sort might look like. Be sure to have them label the attributes of
each of the circles.