Creating understanding how metamorphic rock is formed

Adapted by Sherrie Seidensticker, Jeffers Pond Elementary, Prior Lake Minnesota, adapted from the book titled 204 Sticky, Gloopy, Wacky, and Wonderful Experiments by Janice VanCleave's.


In this activity, students will observe a physical example of how the layer of metamorphic rock is formed. Students will write their observations during the demonstration and during their guided inquiry practice time.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

1. Through the process of this activity, students will understand and be able to communicate the activity of observation.
2. Students will begin their basic understanding of how metamorphic rock is formed.
3. Also students will learn the process of following directions through guided discovery.

Context for Use

1. I plan on using this activity with 2nd graders but it could be used with all grades.
2. My class size will be 25 students.
3. I will be trying this activity in a regular classroom that has carpet floors and individual desks.
4. This activity will take about 45 minutes. I will first demonstrate the activity with time for students to do some group observations. Once I have modeled the activity and we have talked about the student's ideas, they will go to their own areas and do the same activity in groups of two or three.

Description and Teaching Materials

Materials Needed –
1.Three different colored golf ball-size pieces of modeling clay
3.Plastic knife
Steps in the process

1.First take one color of the clay and roll it into a roll about 3 inches long. Repeat this for each color of the modeling clay.
2.Stack the three different rolls on top of each other. Take time to observe the layers when they are put together.
3.Once the layers are put together, twist the stack of clay half way around. As you twist the clay, press the clay together so that it won't break apart.
4.Take the plastic knife and cut the stack in half along the longest part of clay.
5.Observe the top surface and the cut edge. See how the different colors of clay are blended when layers of clay are twisted and pressed into one piece.

Results: The cut edge shows how the different colors of clay are blended when layers of clay are twisted and pressed into one piece.

Why? The three original different-colored rolls of clay represent three layers of sedimentary rock. When pressure was applied to the model by twisting and pressing, the layers became mixed together. This represents metamorphic rock (rock that forms from other types of rock by pressure and heat). The process of changing from one form to another is called metamorphism.

Teaching Notes and Tips

I am thinking that it will be important when you do this activity to have a large enough amount of clay for each group. You may or may not want to model the process. I have found that if I model the process but wait to have the discussion (in any lesson) after the students have a chance to have time for inquiry, our discussion time is filled with great understandings.


This activity will be the first for my 2nd graders to practice how to make observations during an activity. I will be putting key words on the board such as observation, layers, metamorphic, earth surface, etc... Each student will first take part in the class observation as a whole group. We will talk about what they notice during the activity. Once the students are done with the activity, I will ask them to draw a picture or write out what they observed during the activity. I will be looking for students to identify at least once observation in their reflection.

Standards – Understand that when a science investigation is done the way it was done before, even in a different place, a very similar result is expected. – Use observation to develop an accurate description of a natural phenomenon and compare one's observations and descriptions with those of others.

References and Resources