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Rocks and Minerals

S3E1a. Explain the difference between rocks and minerals

b. Recognize the physical attributes of rocks and minerals using
observation (shape, color, texture) measurement, and simple tests
Written by: Doyin Ayoola (K-5 Science Endorsement)

Lesson 1-Goal: To identify the differences

between rocks and minerals

Engage-Show a power point slide show of pictures of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, and
sedimentary rocks) and different minerals (quartz, corundum, talc, jewelry, pencils). Ask
students what did the items have in common? Ask what they think the items are made of. Then
have students use hands lenses to closely examine different rock and mineral samples. Have
them discuss with partners what they observed as far as differences and similarities of the
Explore: Have students work in partners to sort their samples into the 2 categories of rocks and
minerals. Have them discuss in small groups how they determined which samples were rocks
vs. minerals.
Explain: Read trade book Rocks and Minerals (Language Arts integration) page 18-20. Before,
during, and after read aloud students will help teacher fill out a t-chart that compares what a
rock is vs. a mineral. Explain/teach that: A rock is a solid earth material made up of 2 or more
minerals (mixture of minerals), while a mineral can be made up of just 1 thing and it is what
makes a rock. Minerals are naturally formed solids and are recognized by their crystal
Show the same rock/mineral slide show again and have students put R-for Rocks and M-for
Minerals on white boards as images pass. Teacher will walk around checking for student
understanding (Formative Assessment)
Pass out a chocolate chip cookie. Have students sort rocks from minerals in cookie and label in
science journals what part of the cookie is the rock and what part is the mineral. In their own
words, chart, or diagram have students write what the difference between a rock and a mineral

Common Misconception corrected: Rocks and minerals are the same

Lesson 2: Goal: to identify the

difference between rocks and
Extend: Review with students from previous lesson, What is the difference between
a rock and a mineral? Read sections of Let's Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans and
stop in sections that discuss mineral and rock differences.Then explain 3 different
science rotations that students will participate in to extend their knowledge of the
differences/similarities between a rock and a mineral
Science Stations
Station 1: (Language Arts integration) Put the sentence a rock is made of minerals on sentence strip.
Students will brainstorm as many similar analogies/relationships related to this statement. For example, a
cookie is made of chocolate chips and/or salad is made of vegetables. Make a class list/class book of
analogies when whole class is finished.
Station 2: Have students use the rock and mineral samples to sort the rocks from the minerals in a huge tchart on chart paper. They must explain to group why they put each sample where they put it.
Station 3: Give students a checklist of real world items-granola bar, wood, person, tree. Have students work
in teams to decide based on our definition of rocks vs. minerals which items would be a rock and which
items would be a mineral.
Evaluate: Using Kidspiration or Inspiration computer software in computer lab (Technology integration).
Students will be asked to create a venn diagram or diagram of their choosing that depicts the differences and
similarities of rocks and minerals. Teacher will use rubric to grade diagram (Summative)

Common misconception corrected: All minerals are the same

Lesson 3: Goal is for students to recognize

the physical attributes of rocks and minerals
Engage: Provide 1 mineral to each student to examine with hands and magnifying
glass. Have them touch each mineral. Ask students what do they see? What do they
feel? Ask students to tell you as many adjectives as a class that they can use to
describe their minerals. Make a class list of adjectives and work together as a class
to lump the adjectives into 5-6 categories (color, hardness, texture, luster,

Explore: Today student's will explore all attributes of a mineral (except hardness) in 2
different stations:
Station 1: (Streak Test): Let students rub a variety of different minerals across tile
and blow the extra powder away. Ask students, what was the true color of the streak?
and Was the streak the same as the color of the mineral? Students will record
findings in streak test chart and discuss findings with a partner.
Station 2: (Texture, Luster, Size, Shape): Provide students with a variety of minerals
and students will use 4 of their senses to record the attributes of the various minerals
they are given. They will record the touch-texture, luster-shiny/not shiny, measure
minerals with rulers and scales (math integration), and describe the shapes of the
crystals of the minerals. Students will record findings of the attributes in 3rd Grade
Mineral Management recording sheet. Discuss with teams/partners what they learned
about the minerals and what questions they still have about minerals.

Common misconception corrected: All minerals are the same

Lesson 4:Goal is for students to recognize

the physical attributes of rocks and minerals

Explain: Read Everybody Needs A rock and have students make a list of all of the
different adjectives used to describe in the book (Language Arts integration). After
reading the book, have students write a list of the attributes that are used to describe
minerals in their science journals. Make sure to explain/ teach what texture and luster
means by showing different minerals and asking how would you describe texture
(soft, rough, smooth, bumpy) and luster (shiny, dull, bright, sparkling).
Have students create a list of adjectives in their science journals under each
attribute/property to use later when describing minerals.
Extend: Have students choose 1 mineral out of their collection to draw and record
the properties of the mineral including streak tests as well as luster, shape, and
texture of mineral (Save hardness for Lesson 5). Teacher will use observation
checklist to observe student's ability to describe minerals (Formative assessment)
Evaluate: Have students start to create their bubble map or a diagram of their
choosing using Kidspiration or Inspiration software in the computer lab. The diagram
they create will include a description of their mineral using all the attributes that
scientists use to describe minerals (streak, luster, shape, color, size, texture, and

Lesson 5:Goal is for students to recognize

the physical attributes of rocks and minerals

Engage: Show a piece of talc and corundum to each team or small group in class. Let students try to scratch
talc vs. corundum with a fingernail, nail, and another rock. Ask students to take notes on what happened
during scratch test. Have students draw a picture of before and after of each of the two minerals. Ask, what
did you notice? What did you observe?
Explore: Students in pairs will perform scratch tests on mineral samples to determine if their sample is hard
or soft. They will arrange their 10 mineral samples from softest to hardest after performing scratch tests using
pennies, fingernails, nails, other rocks, etc. and recording it on a chart.
Explain: Display Moh's hardness scale and the minerals that correlate to various points in the scale. Explain
to students that the scratch tests they performed show that the easier to scratch a mineral the softer it is and
the harder to scratch a mineral the harder it is. Teach and explain to students how to use the Moh's scale to
determine the hardness of a mineral. Ask questions such as what is the hardest and softest mineral on Moh's
scale? What mineral can or can't scratch __________?
Extend: Give students the minerals halite and quartz. Have them use fingernails, nail,penny,rocks to scratch
both minerals. Have them use one mineral to scratch the other. Ask students which one was harder? Which
was softer?Ask students how they knew which one was harder or softer and record the findings/observations
of the scratch tests in their science journals and recording charts.
Evaluate: After learning all of the physical attributes used to describe a mineral, students can finish creating
their bubble map or diagram of their choosing that depicts their chosen mineral and all of its attributes
including hardness. Put the mineral diagrams in a slide show presentation and have students present and
discuss their mineral and describe it using the attributes we have learned describe minerals. Use a rubric to
grade the students on their diagram and presentation (Technology integration/Summative Assessment).

Common Misconceptions: Minerals don't have specific names and any crystals that scratches glass is a

Other Misconceptions to be
addressed in future lessons

All rocks are all the same.

Minerals are not important to my life.
Minerals dont have specific names.
Humans can make rocks and minerals.
Only "Pretty" rocks are crystals