If you think of something stagnant and boring when you hear rocks, it might be time to give them a second look! In this week’s geology-rich unit, we’ll explore rocks under and above the earth’s crust for a deeper understanding of how rocks form, change, and explode! Click here for our printable tracker to keep a record of the books and activities you finish this week.
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (which can be useful for children looking for more of a challenge). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) symbol.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer
- The Pebble in My Pocket by Meredith Hooper (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- Volcano Wakes Up! by Lisa Westberg Peters (or listen to this read aloud)
- A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston (or listen to this read aloud)
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- laminator + laminator sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- 8×12 sheets of felt (light blue, dark blue, green, dark brown, red, orange, yellow, light brown)
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- our earth’s layers template
- black marker
- 2 boxes or bins (optional)
- 4 glasses or jars
- cotton string (or other absorbant string/yarn)
- 4 large paper clips
- Epsom salt
- baking soda (this is often cheaper at a grocery store)
- mineral scratch kit
- white and milk chocolate (baking chocolate or almond bark are perfect)
- grater or vegetable peeler (kid-safe options like this one are also available)
- cutting board
- baking tray (or candle warmer)
- colorless gelatin
- 2 small bowls (that hold about 1 cup of liquid)
- small rocks and sediments (rocks broken down into smaller pieces)
- dirt with small pieces of rock or tiny gravel
- linking blocks (you can also use DUPLOs)
- 12 rocks (use what you can find outside, or these river rocks would work)
- rice cake (these are cheaper at a grocery store)
- graham crackers (these are cheaper at the grocery store, too)
- Small water bottle (or big if you want to make a bigger volcano)
- About 3″ of clear tubing with 7/8″ outer diameter (fits perfectly inside opening of water bottle)
- About 4 feet of smaller clear tubing (the original post uses 5/16″ outer diameter and 3/16″ inner diameter, but actual dimensions are not critical)
- brown play dough (you can also use 4 times this recipe with about 1/4 cup of instant coffee replacing the 15 drops of food coloring. This makes about 8 cups of dough.)
- food coloring
- single hole punch (you can also use scissors or a craft knife)
- measuring cup
- clear sheet of thin plastic (you could use an empty laminated thermal pouch)
- dish soap (optional)
- clean eggshells
- a variety of soluble solids: table salt, rock salt, sugar, baking soda, Epsom salts, sea salt, borax, or cream of tartar
- small heat proof containers (coffee cups work well)
- egg carton and wax paper (or mini-muffin tin)
- ingredients for this recipe
- air-dry clay or playdough
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
Rocks form the foundation of the very ground we walk on! Let’s see how rocks impact our every day life in the book The Street Beneath My Feet.
Activity 1: There is so much more to the earth than the crust we walk on! Let’s explore the layers of our planet with this DIY felt puzzle.
Activity 2: The earth’s crust is a fascinating thing, and it has experienced many changes over time. Let’s explore one way some of the biggest mountains in the world have been made with this hands-on folded mountain activity.
Activity 3: Another type of rock that forms within mountains (typically in caves and caverns) are stalactites and stalagmites. Let’s learn more about these rocks and how they form by reading the information in this post. Then, let’s bring it to life with this with this activity. (Note: This is a longer-term experiment. You can leave your “rock formations” to grow for up to three weeks.)
Activity 4: One very important way geologists study and identify rocks is with a scratch test. This inexpensive kit is a great way to get started looking at rocks like a geologist.
Note: Tomorrow, we will do an erosion vs. weathering activity with gelatin. You may want to create the gelatin molds tonight so it’s ready to go tomorrow.
Let’s read how rocks can change over time in The Pebble in My Pocket.
Activity 1: Let’s learn more about the different types of rocks. Start by watching this video. You can also print these free posters that show the rock life cycle and the types of rock, igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. Let’s bring it all to life with this sweet activity.
Activity 2: In the book, our pebble experiences both erosion and weathering. But what’s the difference? Let’s find out with this STEM experiment.
Activity 3: Let’s explore some compound words with this layered block activity.
Activity 4: Let’s brush up on our time telling skills with this rock clock activity.
One of the wildest things a rock could do in its lifetime is be part of a volcano! Let’s learn more about how volcanoes work in Volcano Wakes Up! (This book is actually a story told through poems, so it can be a great source for Tea + Poetry this week!)
Activity 1: Before we make some explosive science of our own, let’s learn more about what’s happening under the earth’s surface to cause a volcano with this edible plate tectonics activity.
Activity 2: Why do volcanoes exist in some parts of the earth and not others? The answer lies in the earth’s plates and it’s fault lines. This map shows us the location of the Decade Volcanoes.
The Decade Volcanoes refer to 16 volcanoes identified as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. They are named Decade Volcanoes because the project was initiated as part of the United Nations-sponsored International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. [source]
Print out a copy of the map and use it as a mini research project. Use four different colors of marker or highlighter to identify each as erupting, dormant, eruption warning status, or restless. Assign one color to each status, and look up each volcano together. Once you have determined its status, highlight it or circle it with the correct color on your map. Where are the most dangerous volcanoes? Where are the least dangerous?
Activity 3: Does your child wonder what they should do if ever faced with an active volcano? This simple video provides a few safety tips that might help them feel more secure.
Activity 4: Now we’re ready to initiate an eruption of our own! Let’s make a volcano that will also give us a peek at what is happening inside the eruption with this tutorial. Your child may also want to create the surrounding landscape of their volcano with leaves, sticks, and figurines in a sensory bin or baking tray.
There is so much more to rocks than pebbles and moutains. Let’s learn about the wide variety in the book A Rock is Lively.
Activity 1: Have you ever seen a geode? A geode is the second layer of rock formations within sedimentary and volcanic rock formations. They are hollow with often pretty crystal formation on the sides. This post will show your child some especially beautiful ones. Let’s make some geodes of our own with this eggshell tutorial.
Activity 2: Ready for some crystals good enough to eat? Let’s make some with this homemade rock candy recipe.
Activity 3: Gemstone match-up game.
Activity 1: Did you know rocks can also be art? One famous example of a rock sculpture is Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, USA. Let’s learn more about this massive sculpture in this video.
Next, let’s recreate our own Mount Rushmore with this playdough activity.
Activity 2: Almost all of the U.S. presidents in Mount Rushmore are also on U.S. currency. Let’s get to know them and the coins better with this coin rubbing activity. (Be sure to note that the Roosevelt in the sculpture is not the same as the one on the dime. Use this as an opportunity to share about another famous figure in U.S. history.) If you do not have access to American coins, use this as a lesson to review your local currency by making rubbings of your own coins.
Activity 3: Celebrate the end of the week with a little Queen while exploring the idea of tempo in music. Tempo is the speed at which music is to be played. When a composer wants the tempo to be quick and lively, they will often use the term allegro to indicate the faster tempo. When the composer wants the performer to slow down, they often use the term ritardando to indicate the deceleration. Let’s play with tempo with the song We Will Rock You by the rock band Queen. After listening to the song, practice stomping and clapping with the chorus. Next, stomp and clap to an allegro tempo. Try a slower tempo. See how fast and slow you can chant it!
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