Learning Experience 5: Rock Cycle



For each group of three students:

3 Student Activity Sheets for Learning Experience 5 (Please see PDF)

Set of rock and mineral samples

Rock Samples

1. Shale

2. Granite

3. Pink Sandstone

4. White Marble

5. Pumice

6. Obsidian

7. Limestone

8. Slate

9. Fossil Sandstone

10. Anthracite

Mineral Samples

11. Graphite

12. Galena

13. Magnetite

14. Hematite

15. Talc

16. Gypsum

17. Biotite

18. Calcite

19. Pink Feltspar

20. Quartz

21. Garnet

Double lens magnifier


Read the background information in the Rocks, Minerals, and Landforms Teacher’s Manual. (Please see PDF)

Basic Skills Development:




Evaluation Strategy:

Students will describe various characteristics of the different types of rock and explain how the types of rock can change from one to another using the rock cycle.




rock cycle




Objective: Students will make observations of the different types of rocks and complete a diagram of the rock cycle based on their models.

How do sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, and igneous rocks form?

Students are to examine the samples of shale and slate in their collection. The slate (metamorphic rock) formed from shale (sedimentary rock) under extreme heat and pressure. The pressure squeezes the rock so tightly that the mineral grains line up in flat parallel layers. The slate is a foliated metamorphic rock. Examine the marble, also a metamorphic rock. Ask students if the marble has these same layers? What students will find is that marble does not have these layers. Marble is a non-foliated metamorphic rock.

Granite, obsidian, and pumice are examples of igneous rocks in our collection. They were formed by the crystallization of magma. Students may notice that the crystals of the granite are more visible than the crystals of the obsidian. The size of the crystals in an igneous rock tells how quickly the rock magma has cooled. The faster it cools the smaller the crystal. Obsidian cools so quickly that no crystals are able to form.

Students are to complete the rock cycle diagram with the information from the various experiences with igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock formations. Guide students in completing this graphic representation of the rock cycle by asking them questions in which students will think back to the learning experiences they just completed. When the rock cycle diagram is complete, discuss with students that these processes do not happen quickly. It takes millions of years for one type of rock to turn into another type of rock.

Discussion Questions:

What would have to happen to sedimentary rocks to turn them into igneous rocks? (melt, magma, crystallization)

Could an igneous rock become a sedimentary rock? Explain. (erosion, sediments, burial)

How would an igneous rock be transformed into a metamorphic rock? (compression and heating)

Could a metamorphic rock be turned into an igneous rock? Explain. (melting, magma, crystallization)

How would a sedimentary rock turn into a metamorphic rock? (compression and heating)

How would a metamorphic rock turn into a sedimentary rock? (erosion, sediments, burial)

For a metamorphic rock to form what processes need to occur? (heating and compression)

For an igneous rock to form what processes need to occur? (melting, magma, crystallization)

For a sedimentary rock to form what processes need to occur? (erosion, sediments, burial)

For a graphic of the Rock Cycle, see page 36 of the Rocks, Minerals, and Landforms Teacher’s Manual. (Please see PDF)

For the accompanying Rocks, Minerals, and Landforms Student Activity Book, please refer to the PDF found here. (Please see PDF)

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467