Collecting and Identifying Rocks

Linda Harvey, Marquette Catholic School, Virginia,MN


In this Earth Science activity, students will investigate rocks in an outdoor field trip. Students will be divided into groups and given a Ziploc bag to collect rocks. We will then return to the classroom, and the students will put their rocks into different groups. The different groups could be the size, shape, color, and texture of the rocks. We will then talk about the Rock Cycle and the three main types of rocks. Students will record their observations in their science journals.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to observe the different characteristics and properties of rocks. The students of each group will then give an oral presentation to their classmates describing their observations. One concept of this activity is that the students will learn about the Rock Cycle. Another concept is that the students will be able to identify different rocks and minerals as shown in the Rock Cycle. Vocabulary Words: rock, mineral, Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic

Context for Use

This activity will be part of a science unit on The Earth. The length of the activity will vary depending on the travel time. You could use 2-3 days to complete the activity if time during the day is limited. The groups will be made of 3-4 students. Before this activity, students should be familiar with the Rock Cycle and the three main types of rocks. They should also be familiar with the different minerals.

Description and Teaching Materials

A day or so before going to collect rocks, give each child a copy of the Rock Cycle to examine. Talk about the different types of rocks and minerals in the Rock Cycle. Then, before leaving on the field trip, I plan to read the book Let's Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans. Also, review the vocabulary words: rocks, minerals, Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic. Divide the students into groups. After arriving back at school, the groups will then put their rocks into different groups. The groups will explain why they put rocks into a specific group. Have the students record their observations in their science journals.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Because the students will be divided into groups, be sure to have at least 1 adult with each one. Discuss proper behavior for a field trip. Having the Rock Cycle and a chart of rocks and minerals displayed in the classroom would be helpful.


Their science journal and oral presentation will be the main assessments of this activity. Their journal should contain the meaning of each of their vocabulary words and what their observations were of the rocks that they collected.


2.III.A.1- Identifying Basic Earth Materials

References and Resources