There is something fascinating about rocks – they are all around us we see them and when you start learning about them WOW there is so much to learn about these minerals. I loved learning about the rock cycle, the different types of rocks, how fossils are made and about the earth and how it works. It’s one of the science topics that is visited time and time again in the curriculum in the UK from year 3 in Key Stage 2 onwards, it’s also something that lends itself to so many hands-on experiments, investigations and observations. So here we go our best Rock Activities for learning as part of Earth Science.
Learning about Rock Types
There are 3 main rock types – Sedimentary, Igneous and Metamorphic, these 3 area formed differently, have different properties but all natural rocks can be classified into one or other of the types.
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Igneous rocks are formed from molten material “Magma” within the earth’s core. When a volcano erupts this allows the Magma to cool and rocks are formed. The rocks are full of crystals and the different sizes of the crystals in the rock tell us how quickly or slowly the rocks cooled.
Try out our Edible Igneous Rock Experiment to show how this type of rock is formed and make 2 delicious treats to eat.
Sedimentary Rocks are formed from sediments of other rocks that have been broken down by different processes, transported and deposited to form sediments at the bottom of lake or sea. Then the pressure of the water compacts these and pushes out excess water which the allows crystals to form which bind or cement the sediments together to form sedimentary rock.
We explored the process in the kitchen making Edible Sedimentary Rock – which not only tastes delicious but explains the process as well.
The third type of Rock is the Metamorphic rock. This is formed from either sedimentary or igneous rock and is changed by heat and pressure. The rocks don’t melt but instead, the pressure and the heat is strong enough that the chemical structure of the rocks changes and new rocks are formed. They can have layers or contain fossils that are squeezed and squished depending on the rocks that they are formed from.
See how we demonstrated the making of Metamorphic Rocks with this slow cooker Walnut and Cranberry Fudge.
Experiments for Testing Different Rock Types
Use rocks from your rock collecting outing and test them to discover what type of rock they are with our step-by-step guide to conducting rock testing experiments with kids including how to make your own rock testing kit.
Soil is another component of learning about rocks – why not carry out some soil sample testing with the kids as well.
Other Earth Science and Geology Activities
We all know that mountains are made of rocks – but how are they formed?
Follow our simple experiment to make models of the different types of plate boundaries to show how mountains and valleys are made.
There are lots of different sorts of volcanoes, you can demonstrate how they work with our simple volcano experiments for kids to do.
It doesn’t seem possible to learn about rocks without touching on the subject of fossils. Fossils are the petrified remains or evidence of plants and animals that lived over 10,000 years ago. There are different types of fossils but essential they are formed when a plant or animal dies and they are preserved, mineralized and a rock is formed.
Make fossil molds to show how the first stage of fossil formation is done and how trace fossils would have been formed using this simple craft activity to create salt dough dinosaur fossil molds.
Learn how a different form of fossil is made with our easy to prepare trace fossil model for kids with edible mud.
Looking for books to read to encourage investigation into Rocks, Fossils, and Earth Science check out our recommended reading for Geology with Kids.
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.