Third Grade    Unit 1              Rocks and Minerals Objectives



The Changing Earth - How do materials cycle through the Earth's systems?



3.3 – Earth materials have different physical and chemical properties.


GRADE-LEVEL CONCEPT: u Rocks and minerals have properties that may be identified through observation and testing; these properties determine how earth materials are used.


  1. Earth is mainly made of rock.  Rocks on the earth’s surface are constantly being broken down into smaller and smaller pieces, from mountains to boulders, stones, pebbles and small particles that make up soil.
  2. Rocks can be sorted based on properties, such as shape, size, color, weight or texture. 
  3. Properties of rocks can be used to identify the conditions under which they were formed.
  4. Igneous rocks are formed when melted rock cools, hardens and forms crystals.  Melted rock that cools slowly inside a volcano forms large crystals as it cools.  Melted rock that cools rapidly on the earth’s surface forms small crystals (or none at all).
  5. Sedimentary rocks are formed underwater when small particles of sand, mud, silt or ancient shells/skeletons settle to the bottom in layers that are buried and cemented together over a long period of time.  They often have visible layers or fossils.
  6. Metamorphic rocks are formed when igneous or sedimentary rocks are reheated and cooled or pressed into new forms.  They often have bands, streaks or clumps of materials.
  7. Rock properties make them useful for different purposes.  Rocks that can be cut into regular shapes are useful for buildings and statues; rocks that crumble easily are useful for making mixtures such as concrete and sheetrock.
  8. All rocks are made of materials called minerals that have properties that may be identified by testing.   Mineral properties include color, odor, streak, luster, hardness and magnetism.
  9. Minerals are used in many ways, depending on their properties.  For example, gold is a mineral that is easily shaped to make jewelry; talc is a mineral that breaks into tiny grains useful for making powders.

KEY SCIENCE VOCABULARY:  property, classify, texture, igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic, fossil, crystal, mineral



B5 Describe the physical properties of rocks and relate them to their potential uses.

B6 Relate the properties of rocks to the possible environmental conditions during their formation.




Lesson1: Sharing What We Know about Rocks- Pre-Assessment


Lesson 2: Observing Rocks: How Are They the Same and Different?


Lesson 3:  Learning More about Rocks


Lesson 4:  Discovering Minerals


Lesson 5:  Sharing What We Know abut Minerals


Lesson 6: Observing Minerals: How Are They the Same and Different?



Lesson 7: Describing the Color of Minerals


Lesson 8:  Shining a Light on the Minerals


Lesson 9: Exploring the Luster of Minerals


Lesson 10: Exploring the Hardness of Minerals


Lesson 11:  Testing the Minerals with a Magnet


Lesson 12:  Describing the Shape of Minerals


Lesson 13: Comparing Samples of the Same Mineral


Lesson 14:  Identifying the Minerals


Lesson 15:  Exploring New Minerals


Lesson 16:  How are Rocks and Minerals Used?


Rocks and Minerals Resources:




United streaming: search Rocks and Minerals (material changes)


The Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls.-about boulders and rocks


The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top.- island creation



Literature and Reference Guides





Peterson First Guide to Rocks and Minerals. Fredrick H. Pough


Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals. Chris Pellant


Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Rocks and Minerals (Rocks, Minerals and Gemstones. Simon & Schuster


The Practical Geologist:  The Introductory Guide to the Basics of Geology and to Collecting and Identifying Rocks. Dougal Dixon


Let’s Go Rock Collecting (Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science. Stage 2). Roma Gans


Rocks and Minerals (Eye Wonder). DK Publishing


Geology RocksQ: 50 Hands-On Activities to Explore the Earth (Kaleidoscope Kids). Cindy Blobaum. (+)


The Practical Encyclopedia of Rocks & Minerals:  How to Find, Identify, Collect and Maintain the World’s best Specimens, with over 1000 photographs and Artworks. John Farndon













Anasi and the Moss-Covered Rock. Erick Kimmel


Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists. Jeannie Atkins


The Pebble in my Pocket: A History of Our Earth. Meredith Hooper


How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World. Faith McNulty


Rocks in His Head. Carol Otis Hurst


The Big Rock (Aladdin Picture Books). Bruce Hiscock



*Please check sites to ensure material has not been altered since publication!  What is mined in each state. lesson plans, literature collection, activities, quizzes, puzzles and more. rock cycle information create site created by 5th graders! –connections, games, labs and more. **Why not use technology teacher to help create your own website, let us know! about different jobs dealing with rocks!! excellent slideshow of rocks and minerals, lessons, and video









Rock Cycle Song

(Sing to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)



Has been formed in layers

Often found near water sources

With fossils from decayers


Then there’s IGNEOUS rock

Here since Earth was born

Molten Lava, cooled and hardened

That’s how it is formed


These two types of rocks

Can also be transformed

With pressure, heat and chemicals

METAMORPHIC they’ll become.


Don’t forget to sing this as a “Round” after all; it is the Rock “Cycle”!)

j.carlson-pickering 2001




Create a rock pet, or artwork on a river rock or other found rocks. 

Explore zen rock gardening.

Explore rock gardening.




Explore rock climbing.


























Post Assessment

            The post-unit assessment is matched to the pre-unit assessment in Lesson 1 and to the assessment questions about minerals in Lesson 5.  By comparing individual responses from this activity with those from Lessons 1 and 5, you will be able to document each student’s learning over the course of this unit.  When students respond again to these questions and review the class lists, they may realize how much they have learned about rocks and minerals and about identifying and describing their properties.




            For class:         



            1.  Label one sheet of newsprint with the words “What we Know about Rocks,” one with “What We Know about Minerals,” and a third with “Questions We Still Have.”  Date the sheets and post them in a prominent position in the classroom.  You many need extra sheets of newsprint. (You can receive FREE news print from the New Haven Register, by driving to the loading dock and asking for an end roll and telling them you work for a New Haven public school.  If you return the completely empty roll, you will receive another one. This helps save the district and you money plus you help save the environment by recycling.  Please give it a try!! And pass the word around)

            2.  Have the class lists from Lessons 1 and 5 ready to display.


            1.  Ask students to think about what they have learned in this unit.  Have them write down what they now know about rocks and minerals.  When you compare these entries with those from Lessons 1 and 5, look for new ideas as well as for indications that students’ existing ideas have been refined.

            2.  Display the original class lists.  Ask students to point out ideas they now know to be true.  What experiences did they have during the unit that confirmed these statements?

            3.  Ask students to look at the lists again and to point to statements they would like to correct, improve, or delete.  Again, ask them to support their suggestions with experiences from the unit.

            4.  Finally, ask students to share new information they gained from the unit.  What else have they learned? What new questions do they have? Record their answers on the newly prepared newsprint.  Point out that science involves asking questions and conducting investigations to find out the answers, and that the answers usually lead to more questions and additional investigations.




Significant Task:


            Students will prepare a museum like exhibit for others to visit/observe.  The exhibit can be exhibited in the library, cafetarium, school entry, bulletin board, and showcase.  The exhibit should include both rocks and minerals.  The materials should be labeled with not only name but a student written description including vocabulary used during unit.  The descriptions could include possible uses and history/origin.











Additional resources:

Yale Peabody (either visit or have them visit you)