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The Human Rock Cycle

Students, like adults, have various learning styles. Some of us learn best by talking and listening, others by reading. Many of us, including young students, learn best by doing — by moving, exploring, touching, and feeling. Acting out geologic processes can be a powerful way of building understanding.

Grade Level: K-5

Safety
Wear sunscreen if outside for an extended period. Wear sunglasses on a sunny day. Taking a first aid kit is a good idea. No flip-flops should be worn outside. Be aware of the weather, and check for ticks after returning to the classroom. Also, no rough play.

Materials

  • None

For the Teacher
Prior to conducting the activity, the teacher should divide students into groups of about three or four. Assign each group, in secret, a rock type — igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic — and tell them to discuss privately their strategy for acting out the group’s assigned rock type. No talking with members of other groups!

Procedure

  1. Quietly discuss with members of your group some creative ways to act out the rock cycle. How is your rock type formed? How does it age? How is it used by people? What does this look like?

  2. One group at a time, make your dramatic presentation. You can make noises if appropriate, but no talking!

  3. Once each group’s presentation is over, allow observers to guess which rock type was being acted out. What evidence suggests one rock type rather than another?

  4. After all groups have presented, discuss the rock cycle. How do the rock types differ? What do the processes that create them tell you about their age, location, composition, potential uses, and other characteristics?

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