Essential Academic Learning
1.1 The student will use properties to identify, describe, and categorize
substances, materials, and objects, and use characteristics to categorize
Earth science, social studies, language arts/writing.
There are many different kinds of rocks (and mineral resources) and everyone may value them differently.
Observing, classifying/categorizing, discussing, writing
The students will recognize the individual beauty of rocks
and will develop an interest in where rocks come from.
1. The book, Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor (available
at the library, or for sale through many bookstores).
2. Paper and pencil for each student.
One hour or longer if trip outside to look for rocks.
Permission is granted to
photocopy this lesson. There is no copyright.
Everyone Needs a Rock
Throughout time, societies have valued rocks and mineral resources
in their natural state. The great stone circle at Stonehenge,
England, is a famous example that is still controversial. The
arrangement of those massive stones mark the seasons and cycles of
the year but historians are still not sure what peoples placed
them there and now they managed it. The monolithic stone figures
on Easter Island were carved by unknown ancients. Each year
thousands of people travel to see the naturally occurring stone
features in the western United States at Devilís Tower,
Yellowstone National Park, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, the
Yosemite National Park
. Today as always, people
have strong feelings about rocks and minerals.
There are museums with remarkable rock collections and other
geologic specimens in many cities and at most major universities.
There are also rocks and mineral resources to be appreciated in
almost every neighborhood. The first step in discovering some of
these natural wonders is to look and observe.
Ask the students the following questions to assess their knowledge
or to stimulate interest in the activity:
"What are five ways we use rocks?"
"Have you made a rock creation: if so, describe it."
- Discuss with the students where rocks come from and why they
are important. (Include things like rock for roads, foundations
of houses, skateboard parks, bauxite for aluminum cans, gold and
silver for fillings...)
- Read Everybody Needs a Rock aloud to the class.
- Have each student write or tell his or her own personal rule #11,
based on the story.
- Take the class rock hunting. Rules 1 through 10 must be used.
The stu- dents will learn these as you read the story. A review may
be needed. Be sure to remind them to use their own rule #11. This
could be done as a field trip to a canyon or a park or a walk on
the school grounds.
- Perform the "smelling test" as outlined in the story. Have the
students share with the class where their rock came from.
- Check for understanding:
- Have the students make up their own
rock game, "I happen to have a rock here in my hand..."
- Have the students write a story about where their rock came
from. Have them illustrate their stories.
Rockhound – one who hunts and collects gemstones or
minerals (such as quartz, agate or petrified wood) as a hobby; an
- By examining the colors in the rock, students may also
want to investigate the mineral content in their rock.
(Provide copies of Field Guides to Rocks and Minerals.)
- Over the next month, keep a list of any rocks you find in
your neighborhood. (Examples: Pebbles in the driveway cement,
rock walls around the neighborís garden, marble in an
important building, a piece of artwork in the park, or
the new path near the Tower at Percival Landing in Olympia).
List the location the rock was found; a description of the
rock (color, size, texture); what the type of rock is if you
know or can find out (does a name plaque give the name of the
mineral?). You may want to consult a rock identification book
for help. (Simon & Schusterís Guide to Rocks and Minerals, Philipís
Minerals, Rocks and Fossils, or the Peterson Field Guide: Rocks and
Minerals are a few of the good reference books with helpful photos
and descriptions. Every library has these or similar books.)
Every studentís list should answer the questions:
- K-3 Where did you see the rock? What color was it? Was it smooth
or rough? Was it dull or shiny? How big was it?
- 4-6 For each rock type found, list the location and how it was
being used (driveway for paving, bank building foundation, city
park sculpture, etc.). Give the color, size, texture. If the rock
is identified on a sign or plaque, include the information.
(Example: There is a large piece of green serpentine in the downtown
Olympia Timberland Library in which a seal is sculpted. According to
the label, the serpentine is most probably from Jade Creek, near
Mount Vernon, Washington).
References and Suggested Readings:
- Baylor, Byrd; Parnall, Peter, illustrator, 1974, Everybody needs
a rock: Scribner, 32 p.
- Bishop, A. C.; Woolley, A. R.; Hamilton, W. R., 1999, Philipís
minerals, rocks and fossils; 2nd ed.: G. Philip, in association with
the Natural History Museum, 336 p.
- Knoblach, D. A., 1994, Guide to geologic, mineral, fossil, and
mining history displays in Washington: Washington Geology, v. 22, no.
4, p. 11-17.
- Pough, F. H., 1996, A field guide to rocks and minerals; 5th ed.:
Houghton Mifflin Co. (Peterson Field Guide 7), 396 p.
- Prinz, Martin; Harlow, George; Peters, Joseph, editors, 1978, Simon
& Schusterís guide to rocks and minerals: Simon and Schuster, 607 p.
- Waugh, Peter; Sunderland, Don, illustrator, 2002, The great Cannon
Beach mouse caper: Educare Press, 99 p.
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