The Rock Cycle NGSS MS ESS2-1


Students make personal connections to the rock cycle by identifying rocks and minerals essential to their lives. In The Rock Cycle mini unit students hypothesize how different rocks form based on their observations and model intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks by making rock candy. Then, they write the life story of a rock from the rock’s point of view.


For an extension activity, students choose a project based on one of their multiple intelligences. They can write a rock rap, interview a geologist or create their own rock collection!


Anchor Phenomenon Ideas: Kids love looking at and sorting rocks. Anchor your unit with a big pile of rocks! allow students to observe, sort and organize the rocks on their own terms. Use the authentic questions they come up with to make connections throughout your rock cycle unit.

Make it Relevant: Focus on rocks and minerals that are essential to your students' lives and/or found locally. The University of Oregon has a great list of everyday uses of rocks and minerals. Also look for local resources like this University of Minnesota Virtual Egg Carton of rocks.

Tips and Tricks: If it is easier to manage, make the rock candy recipe as a whole class. Students can each make their own rock candy sticks and you can clean up once instead of many times. As you wait for the rock candy to form over two days, students can move on to questions six and seven in their packet as well as the vocabulary review.

Check your local department of natural resources to help students find incredible resources like this "Ask a Rock" story from the MN Conservation Volunteer Magazine.

Example of vocabulary review at the end of each mini unit. Students illustrate each word and use the word in their own sentence.

If kids are struggling to write their rock story, direct them to the slides that outline specific examples. The more details students add to their story, the more fun it will be for them to write.

Extension Activity: Here is a thorough review of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences in Simply Psychology as you support students with their extension projects. The article includes a link to an easy-to-understand four minute video that can be shared with students.

For more ways to include learning with Multiple Intelligences in your classroom as well as a simple quiz for students to take to determine their top intelligences, check out our Multiple Intelligences Book Project.

Enrichment Ideas: Challenge kids to predict what type of rocks will be present in your area ten million years from now!