The Early Years: Rocks Tell a Storyby: Peggy Ashbrook

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Sedimentary rocks, formed by an accumulation of sediments (tiny pieces of rocks or minerals) in a water environment, tell a story that many students may be familiar with. They may have visited areas where water or wind carried sediments and deposited them in rivers, lakes, oceans, or dunes. The rocks are often visually or texturally interesting and may have the added attraction of containing fossils. We can understand the stories rocks tell more easily if we have experience with the materials that make up a rock. This article offers suggestions on how to experience these rock materials.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (6)
  • on Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:52 PM

This article is geared towards Pre-K -2nd grade learners. I love this because there are not very many geology educator resources for younger students! Sedimentary rocks are brought into context for the young geologist through the use of storytelling, something that any early elementary student is familiar with. The storytelling process begins with the students being encouraged to do a hands-on exploration of the material. Sedimentary rock is easily found and easily broken down by the students to allow for further exploration. Students are encouraged to go outside to look for sedimentary rocks, where available, or simply explore the components like sand or clay in their classroom by adding materials to paint or mixing materials with water. As students explore the sedimentary rocks or sedimentary materials they will naturally begin filling in parts of the story as they notice how the rocks and materials change with use. The article includes a recipe for a classroom friendly “pretend rock” as well as a tasty sedimentary “rock” treat!

Lana M
Lana M

  • on Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:55 AM

Young children play with sand, clay, plaster of paris and water to make sedimentary rocks of their own after first studying some common sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and shale. Students make observations about these rocks. They then make pretend rocks to help understand how the real rocks might have been made.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:10 PM

I do an experiement with my students making "mock"rocks so students can see what a rock is made of ... This Journal article gives me another idea to further examine sedimentary rocks by using the earth materials that are truly used in the formation of sedimentary rocks. I like the idea of looking at the difference in the grain size and why different sedimentary rocks look different. Students will love this activity.

Susan Grandick
Susan Grandick

  • on Thu May 12, 2011 10:15 AM

Ways preschool students can explore sedimentary rocks through water, clay and sand through hands on play activities.

Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton

  • on Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:14 AM

So simple, and so smart! We often present rock samples in isolation, but the simple act of examining the context from which rocks are found can do a lot to tell a rock's "story". For example, what else was in the dirt around the rocks? How does water move sand? How do clay and sand interact with water?

Christina B
Christina B

  • on Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:48 PM

This is a good article for teaches who are looking to infuse a basic understanding about rocks and how they are created over time. It provides some wonderful activities for teachers to allow students to grasp this concept in a hands-on way that will be more effective for the students. If you are looking for a way to get dirty with your kids and get them excited about the rock cycle, this is a great place to start.

Shawna Paynter  (Barboursville, WV)
Shawna Paynter (Barboursville, WV)

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