Children will develop problem-solving skills while they observe, compare, and classify rocks.
- A variety of rocks, stones, and pebbles
- Paper bags
- A few magnifying glasses
- Paper plates
- Experience-chart paper
- Egg cartons
- Pan balance
Go on a collecting walk with your students. Give each child a paper bag and encourage everyone to look for rocks and pebbles of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Gather children in a circle outside and look over the rock collection together. Explain that they can work in small groups to study and experiment with the rocks.
- Help children divide into groups outdoors. Give each group a mound of rocks and pebbles. Encourage children to use magnifying glasses to make close observations. Ask, "How are the rocks the same or different?"
- Invite children to sort the rocks in any way they choose — by size, texture, shape, color, and so forth — onto paper plates. Once they are finished sorting, ask them to describe the rocks on each plate.
- Make an experience chart describing the different ways children classified the rocks. Then invite them to count the rocks on each plate. Together, discuss which plate has the most and the least amount.
- Ask children to arrange the pebbles from smallest to largest in an egg carton. Give out sheets of white paper and pencils, and let children trace the smallest and largest pebbles, and compare their differences.
- Let children use a pan balance to compare the weights of various rocks. Ask them to predict which rocks will be the heaviest or the lightest. Then, ask them to test their predictions.
- After studying and experimenting with the rocks, create a rock museum. Display the rocks in your science center with signs describing the biggest, smallest, roughest, smoothest, heaviest, lightest, and so on.
For younger children: Give children plenty of time to collect the rocks. Encourage children to talk about the different rocks as they collect them. They may or may not want to try the different rock experiments.
For older children: Provide reference books that children can use to try to identify the different rocks in their collections.
Observations: Which children are interested in the feel of the rocks, the way they sound when they're tapped together, the colors in the rocks? Which children are interested in experimenting with the different rocks in their collections?
Have a rock'n roll party! Take children to a grassy area outdoors. Ask them to curl their bodies in a ball as if they were rocks randomly placed on the ground. Then, invite them to roll their bodies as if they were rocks rolling down a hill!