- Overview of the rock cycle
- Three main categories of rocks
- Processes of the rock cycle
- Define rock and describe what rocks are made of.
- Know the three main groups of rocks.
- Explain how each of these three rock types is formed.
- Describe the rock cycle.
deposit: Collection of sediment that has been dropped by wind, water, or another agent of erosion.
sediment: Small particle of soil or rock deposited by wind, water, or another agent of erosion.
Introducing the Lesson
Ask students to recall the definition of minerals from the chapter “MS Minerals.” (Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic crystalline solids, each with a definite chemical composition.) Explain that rocks are made of minerals. Specifically, rocks are collections of mineral crystals that are held together in a firm, solid mass. Tell students they will learn how rocks form from minerals when they read this chapter.
Building Science Skills
Assign the interactive activities at the following URLs. In the first activity, students will learn key characteristics that are used to identify types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic). Then they will “collect” a sample of rocks and try to identify them by type. In the second activity, students will learn about the processes that change rocks from one type to another. They will try to apply the processes to specific rocks. In the third activity, they will explore the rock cycle and then try to complete the cycle by filling in the correct types of rocks and processes.
Engage students in learning about the rock cycle by having them play the “Rock Cycle Race” at the URL below. Students play the game by following paths that replicate rock cycle processes. They advance on the game board by correctly answering questions about the processes and the types of rocks formed.
Work with struggling students to create a simple cycle diagram of the rock cycle. Have them create sketches for the diagram to represent the different processes involved. Tell students to add the diagram to their science notebook.
Ask a few advanced students to create well-illustrated rock cycle posters. Tell them to include, on their posters, definitions of the three types of rocks and brief descriptions of the processes involved in the cycle. Ask students to present their posters to the class, and then display the posters in the classroom.
Simulation is an important science inquiry approach to understanding large, complex, and long-term processes. The simple activity below is an easy way for students to gain hands-on experience with the rock cycle. They will use sugar cubes and other common materials to simulate some of the main processes that occur in the cycle.
Language Arts Connection
Challenge students to create a story about Roger, a metamorphic rock, and how he goes through the rock cycle. They should describe at least three transitions that occur during Roger's life. The descriptions should be given from Roger's point of view. You might want to give students the option of expressing their story as a diary, cartoon, or children's book.
Reinforce and Review
Copy and distribute the lesson worksheets in the CK-12 Earth Science for Middle School Workbook. Ask students to complete the worksheets alone or in pairs to reinforce lesson content.
Lesson Review Questions
Have students answer the Review Questions listed at the end of the lesson in the FlexBook® student edition.
Check students’ mastery of the lesson with Lesson 4.1 Quiz in CK-12 Earth Science for Middle School Quizzes and Tests.
Points to Consider
What processes on Earth are involved in forming rocks?
What rocks are important to modern humans and for what purposes?