Essential Academic Learning

1.1 The student will use properties to identify, describe, and categorize substances, materials, and objects, and use characteristics to categorize rocks.

Grade Levels
Grades K-6

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.

Time Needed
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 Grand Canyon, and 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.

Activity: 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."

  1. 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...)
  2. Read Everybody Needs a Rock aloud to the class.
  3. Have each student write or tell his or her own personal rule #11, based on the story.
  4. 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.
  5. Perform the "smelling test" as outlined in the story. Have the students share with the class where their rock came from.
  6. 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 amateur mineralogist.

Lesson Extension:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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:

References and Suggested Readings:

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