Tag Archive: rocks


3rd grade: Geode Cracking

IMG_8374Today was the day my 3rd graders have (im)patiently waiting….WE CRACKED GEODES!  (We did have a safety session IMG_8373first–don’t worry!)  We had to move our cracking to the floor as our table tapping just wasn’t cutting it.

So we cracked open our geodes and each student was able to take a half, analyze their geode, and write about what they saw.

Things I was looking for…

  • How was this different from the “geodes” we made?
  • What colors, shapes, textures do you notice?
  • What type of rock do you think this is?
  • How was this different than you expected?

Today marked our last day working with rocks and minerals.  Earlier in the week we worked in pairs to make posters about the characteristics of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks (we did igneous together) and I was so impressed at how they were digging into their books and really finding the important pieces of information.  I didn’t get a picture of their posters because I let them take them home already!  Oops–but trust me–they were awesome!

It has been an extremely fun two weeks doing experiments and reading about rocks and minerals.  Next week we’ll be making ice cream and learning about procedural steps and reading a book about From Milk to Ice Cream!  Check back in with us.

IMG_0359My 3rd graders continue their quest of studying rocks and minerals.  We started reading Rocks and Minerals from National Geographic Kids (LOVE this book, by the way!) and read the first half of the book.  The first half goes over how rocks are made (the “rock cycle”) and goes into more depth on minerals, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

IMG_0357After the kids finished the first half of the book (“20 pages, Ms. Acuff!!!?!?! How are we going to get through all of that?!?!?!) We did some analysis on a box of rocks I have.  They had to decide if the rock was a mineral, igneous, sedimentary, or a metamorphic rock based on the information they had from their book and by looking at the rock.

Next we’ll continue by writing about the different kinds of rocks and analyzing more rocks.  They are looking forward to being able to crack open their own geode and writing about it.

IMG_8060IMG_80503rd grade checked back in with their home-made geodes today.  Several of the egg shells had fully evaporated and the salt crystals really showed up.  Students were able to use a magnifying glass to take a closer look at where the salt crystals were–some all over and some just around the edges of the circle while the center was still filled with liquid, although all of the liquid had evaporated quite a bit from yesterday.

We started a new paragraph and wrote about what we noticed with our geodes on day 2.  What did it look like?  What changes did you notice?  What do you smell?  How did the color change?

They made me laugh by saying, “OH MY GOSH! LOOK AT MY GEODES!!!”  I had to remind them that this wasn’t a real geode.  We were just mimicking the properties of a geode.  It was still exciting.

From there we started a new experiment: do rocks float?

They all said no, rocks don’t float.  Rocks are heavy.  I passed around a series of IMG_8054rocks that they were able to inspect and examine and they had to decide if the rock would sink or float.  First up, pumice.  They were loud gasps and cheers when the pumice floated at the top of the glass.

We passed around rose quartz, magnetite, popcorn rock, and Iceland glass.  Each of the other rocks sank!  I was even surprised the tiny piece of magnetite sank.  It felt light and airy, but alas, it sank just as fast as the others.

Each student got a chance to scoop a rock back out after it sank.  After we put the rocks to the test then we wrote about what surprised us about the “do rocks float?” experiment.  Which rocks did they think would sink that floated?  Which rocks did they think would float actually sank? (After pumice floated then they shifted their thinking quite a bit!)

We were having such great conversations about the rock experiments that we only got through checking on our geodes and the floating experiment.  We are hoping to get through 2 sections tomorrow, but our excitement is keeping us from being more productive.  However, a lot of great IMG_8055learning is going on.  I’m enjoying see them get out the magnifying glass to take better looks, writing notes, checking with other teammates on what they notice, and examining all the different pieces.

IMG_00563rd grade has moved on to a rocks and mineral study.  I started out by introducing the difference between rocks and minerals from my mentor text Big Box of Awesome Rocks by Robin Merril.  She goes into talking about the differences, how rocks are made, different properties of rocks and minerals, different kinds of rocks, and experiments you can do with rocks and minerals.

IMG_0051Most recently we experimented with two rocks: geodes and magnetite.  Our first experiment was to mimic the properties of geodes by putting colored salt water into cleaned egg shells.

The 3rd graders had to use the pipette to put the solution into their egg shells.  While they waited for their turn, they had to journal about what they thought their geode would like by the end of the week.  How would it change?  How would it look?  What would be left?

They were full of excitement and it was hard to get them to journal because they were so excited watching their classmates fill up their egg shells.  We will check up on the progress each day and journal how the eggs have changed over the week.

IMG_0053Next we moved on to magnetic properties in rocks.  We talked about what kinds of things they thought were magnetic.  None of them believed a rock was magnetic.  I pulled out one of my “magnet sculptures” you can manipulate little metal pieces on a big magnet and had the kids touch the magnetite to the pieces.  They could manipulate the little metal pieces with the magnetite rock.

3rd graders were then asked to journal about what was surprising to them about the properties of magnetite.

We have a few more experiments left to do and I’ll update you as we go along!

IMG_0281If you are a follower of my blog then you probably read about my 3rd graders reading National Geographic Kids Rocks and Minerals last semester.  It was a big hit with my 3rd graders and thought I could use it with my 2nd graders.  I had mapped IMG_1294out what I wanted to do with them and had planned to do a lot of the same stuff, but one of the things I realize the longer I teach is how much teaching evolves as you do something and how the interests and questions of the kids somewhat guides the way you teach.

We started out with an indepth study on where we find rocks and then the differences between Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic rocks along with the rock cycle and minerals.  The more we read the more students were asking about different rocks, minerals, and gemstones.  They were so curious about the difference among rocks.

The thing I have really noticed about this set of five 2nd graders, which I truly appreciate, is how hands-on they are and how curious they are.  I am constantly taking notes of questions they have that arent answered in our readings that I have to research and bring back to them or that we research together.  So with all these questions I thought it was necessary that we research about the different types of rocks and then do an indepth analysis and categorization of different rocks/minerals/gemstones.

IMG_0274I ordered a pack of 20 rocks/gemstones from Amazon and once they arrived students were given one rock at a time to analyze, categorize, and write about.  They were given 2 minutes to study the rock before then needing to write about it.  Although they didn’t get a chance to write about all 20 rocks in the box due to time, they were able to write about several of them.

After they had analyzed and written about their rocks they were able to discuss what they had noticed with another group member.  The chattering about rocks was so focused that I had a hard time getting them to STOP talking about rocks.

I was even impressed when on day 2 of rock analysis one of the 2nd graders brought in her own rocks she found outside and wanted everyone in the group to take one and analyze it for themself.  IMG_0275Wow!

Since the kids were so enthusiastic about studying different rocks I ordered some geodes online as well and thought it would be fun for students to crack their own geodes and be able to study and write about those as well and then be able to take them home.

Today we were able to take the rocks outside and hammer away at some geodes.  We had one particular geode that we had a difficult time cracking open.  After several attempts there were lots of cheers when it finally cracked open.  We cracked open 2 geodes (picture at the top) and the comments I kept hearing were 1. I wasn’t expecting them to be ugly on the outside, but pretty on the inside, and 2. I had no idea they were going to be sparkly and have so many different colors.

IMG_0279Students were able to discuss their findings with a group member before selcting a geode piece to take home with them.  One of the students noticed that the geode left marks on the cement which turned into a coversation about how the cement was made out of rocks and how the geode was less hard which allowed the cement to scratch it.  This was based off our learning that diamonds are the hardest rock and can scratch steel.  I have really enjoyed these last couple of weeks as we’ve been researching, writing, reading, and exploring the world around us.

3rd Grade: Rocks and Minerals

IMG_9117My 3rd graders have spent the last week working on a high interest non-fiction book from National Geographic Kids called Rocks and Minerals.  We started by making a list of what we knew about rocks and minerals and where we thought we could find them.  Initially when we started the kiddos thought rocks and minerals were just the round things we find on the ground out in the woods or lakes.  It was fun to see their learning grow about how rocks are all around us almost everywhere we look.

IMG_9120We learned about the 3 types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and charted the differences on an anchor chart we hung up throughout the entire book and process.

At the end of the book the author told us rocks are everywhere and listed how different rocks are used to make buildings.  Both 3rd graders noticed their counters in their kitchens matched the marble and granite looking rock in the book.  They were surprised that rocks really were EVERYWHERE.

From there I took the kids on a mini-field trip around our building.  The kids took the ipad and were able to take pictures of everything in our building that was made out of rocks or appeared to be made out of rocks and minerals in some way, shape, or form.  We printed off the pictures and using IMG_9121the anchor chart and the book we categorized the pictures we had taken around the school to figure out if our building was made out of igneous, sedimentary, and/or metamorphic rocks.

After they labeled the parts of our school then they had to write about the different parts of our school and what they were made out of.  We learned that our school was made mostly out of sedimentary rock even though igneous rock makes up most of the world’s rocks.

I brought in a bunch of rocks from my son’s rock collection for them to analyze and categorize whether they were igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic rocks.

IMG_9122I was extremely impressed with the information and facts they kept talking about and having a discussion over.  Rocks are everywhere!  I’m proud of all the great work 3rd grade did with their rock and mineral study.