Rocks and the Rock Cycle: Sedimentary, Metamorphic and Igneous Rock Activities

Today, I’m going to share some of the hands-on activities and the free rock cycle worksheets that go along with our unit.
Free Rock Cycle Worksheets Hands-On Activities 3 Types of RocksFor the past week or so, we have been talking about the three types of rocks and the rock cycle.  (It’s free to download down below.) What is great about these activities is that they will work with a huge age range… from PreK up through elementary!

As we started our unit, we read several books about rocks together.

These books have some really fun ideas:

We really loved Explore Rocks and Minerals!: 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments when we did this unit a number of years ago. (affiliate link)

Explore-Rocks-and-MineralsI really recommend Geology Rocks!: 50 Hands-On Activities to Explore the Earth. (affiliate link)  It had a lot of really great ideas.  We got it first from the library, but then I wound up purchasing it to have on hand!

Geology-RocksWe got a number of other books about rocks, but the one I highly recommend is Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals (affiliate link)  because of all the beautiful photos.

Rocks-and-MineralsYou might also want to check out our Rocks and Minerals Booklet (included in our Rocks & Minerals Packet

Rocks and Minerals Booklet - Elementary

Sedimentary Rock Activity:

Our first activity was about sedimentary rocks.

We took a bag of dried rice and colored it with food dye. (The rice was uncooked.)

We used a clear, plastic cup (though a glass jar would work just fine too).   I cut an index card so that it would fit down into the cup (because the plastic cup was wider at the top).

Sedimentary Rock ActivityNext, the kids spooned different colors into the cup, equally on both sides of the index cards.

Sedimentary Rock Hands-On ActivityThen, gently (remind the kids to be very gentle and not to pull the card out of the rice!) have them move the card up and down slightly to imitate an earthquake.  The layers will shift and slide! That’s really easy to see with brightly dyed layers!

Sedimentary Layers Fault Acitivity

We read a book specifically about sedimentary rocks called How Do Water and Wind Change Rocks: A Look at Sedimentary Rocks (affiliate link) which does a good job of explaining how sediment forms and washes away. Then explains how that sediment turns into rock through pressure/compacting and cementing.  It goes on to talk about how wind, water, and weathering affect sedimentary rocks.

Sedimentary Rock book

One of the days while we were reading, the girls “made” their own sedimentary layers out of different colored play dough. Then, they took a spatula and applied “pressure” to create their sedimentary rock.

Sedimentary Rock Hands-On Activity

Igneous Rocks:

Next, we went on to talk about igneous rocks.  We read How Do Volcanoes Make Rocks: A Look at Igneous Rocks. (affiliate link)

Igneous Rock Book for KidsI brought out some of the rock samples we have and they looked at obsidian, pumice, granite, and basalt. (See the rock kit suggestions below.)

We talked about how igneous rocks can form above ground (when a volcano erupts) or below ground, when magma cools under the surface.

The activity we did for igneous rock was to take pieces of red, bright yellowish-orange, orange crayons and pile them on top of one another on a paper plate. Then, we put them in the microwave for 3 or 4 minutes.  We brought them out and then ED moved the plate around to watch the colors swirl.  The crayons cooled quickly… just as magma cools as it flows out onto Earth’s surface. 🙂


Metamorphic Rock Activities:

Next, we were on to metamorphic rocks. We read Baking and Crushing: A Look at Metamorphic Rocks (affiliate link) which did a really good job explaining how sedimentary and igneous rock changes into metamorphic rocks through heat and/or pressure. It has good illustrations that show how magma can ooze into cracks and heat the rocks around it. It also explains how earth’s movement affects rocks. It has pictures of some of the rocks that change: sandstone (changes to) – quarzite; shale to slate; basalt to schist, etc.

metamorphic rock book for kidsOur metamorphic rock activity was also with crayons. First, we shaved/cut up pieces of crayon. Then, we put those shavings into layers in a small medicine cup.

ED applied pressure first with her thumb… and then with a hammer to “form” sedimentary rock.

Metamorphic Rock Activity - part 1We then heated our “sedimentary rock” in the microwave. We checked on it every minute or so.

Metamorphic Rock Hands-On ActivityOnce it was cool, we popped it out of the medicine cup.  TaDa! Metamorphic Rock!

Metamorphic-Rock-ActivityOne day, we brought out our rock chart and put the cards in place. It also has a section that talks about how to identify rocks and minerals: texture, streak, hardness, luster, color.  We brought out various rock samples and examined those.

Rock Chart Igneous Sedimentary Metamorphic RocksWe spent time look at the samples that change to metamorphic rock (like granite an igneous rock that that changes into gneiss):

granite-gneissRock Cycle: Finally, we talked about the rock cycle. We read What is the Rock Cycle? (affiliate link), which is was really well done.  It was a good one to wrap up our unit.

Rock Cycle BookWe talked about how rocks and change into different forms and we went over the Rock Cycle notebook pages that I put together for the kids.

In the packet below, there are several pages about the rock cycle. Recently, I made an entirely new Rocks and Minerals Packet that is well over 100+ pages. It includes notebook pages, worksheets and dozens and dozens of amazing images.

These pages are still  free to download:

Rock Cycle Worksheets – Sedimentary Metamorphic Igneous

Be sure to check out our new Rocks and Minerals Unit!

Rock Cycle Worksheets - FreeBe sure to check out our new 100+ page Rocks and Minerals Unit!

Rocks and Minerals Unit - Worksheets Notebook Pages and More!

We have studied rocks and minerals several times over the years.  We have a number of different rock sets and I highly recommend that you have rocks on hand for your studies.

We got a rock kit with different samples of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks. We got the small version (with 15 rocks): American Educational Introductory Rock Collection (affiliate link).

Rocks-KitThe large kit with 75 rocks and minerals looked really great: Introductory Earth Science Classroom Rocks and Minerals Collection (affiliate link). For a rocks and minerals unit for older kids, I would probably got with this because it has at least 25 minerals, 6 or 7 ores, and samples of the sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.

Large-Rocks-and-Minerals-KitNew Rocks and Minerals Unit!

The material above was made many years ago when my kids were quite little. I have made a huge new 100+ page Rocks and Minerals Unit if you are interested! See details here.

Rocks and Minerals Packet - worksheets activities and moreNew! (2021) We have a fantastic Rocks and Minerals Packet available. I’ll leave these pages I made many years ago still up on the blog, but you may want to check out our new materials here .

Rocks and Minerals Unit - Worksheets Notebook Pages and More!In our Rocks & Minerals Unit, we went into a lot of detail about the types of minerals, identifying minerals – crystalline structures, the characteristics of minerals (color, streak, luster, hardness), the Mohs Hardness Scale,  how rocks are formed, weathering, erosion, the lithification process, different types of igneous, sedimentary & metamorphic rocks and more.  This packet includes notebook pages, worksheets, a lapbook, lab activities, vocabulary cards, booklets and more!

Rocks and Minerals Unit with Worksheets Notebook Pages Lapbook Booklet and moreThe Rock Cycle Booklet - Notebook Pages $7.99 New! Rocks and Minerals Unit 100+ pages

More details can be found here: Rocks and Minerals Packet or at the Earth Science BUNDLE page.

Don’t forget to check your PayPal email account for your download link! Our packets are PDF digital downloads. If you have any questions or problems feel free to email me or check out the FAQ.

This unit is included in our Earth Science BUNDLE. More details about the Earth Science Bundle options here.

Earth Science Bundle of 5 units

Three Types of Rocks - igneous sedimentary metamorphic rock Worksheets - notebook pages

Here are some of the Worksheets, Notebook Pages and Activities included in the new Rocks and Minerals Unit:

  • Rocks and Minerals Booklet (with tracing)
  • Rocks and Minerals Booklet (with fill-in-the-blanks)
  • Rocks and Minerals Questions (based on the booklet)
  • Rock or Mineral? worksheet
  • Minerals Notebook Pages (student fill-in-the-blank pages – teacher pages)
  • Identifying Minerals Notebook Pages
  • How would you describe the luster? Worksheet or matching cards
  • Mineral Observation Lab Activity (we used the Toysmith Minerals Kit (affiliate link) but probably any mineral kit will work!)
  • Ores Notebook Page
  • Rocks Worksheets on the Three Types of Rocks
  • Igneous Rocks Notebook Pages
  • Granite – Observation Activity
  • Sedimentary Rock Notebook Pages
  • Stratigraphy Notebook Pages
  • Metamorphic Rock Notebook Page
  • Rocks and Minerals Vocabulary Matching Cards
  • Rocks and Minerals Vocabulary Review Sheets
  • Three Types of Rocks Activity
  • Three Types of Rock Lapbook/Interactive Notebook Activity
  • Identify the Igneous (I), Sedimentary (S) or Metamorphic (M) Rocks Worksheet
  • Rock Observation Lab Page (We’ll use a rock kit by Toysmith that we’ve had for many years, but it really doesn’t matter what rocks you observe. This kit has 12 samples, as does their minerals kit.)
  • Rock Cycle Booklet
  • Rock Cycle Worksheet
  • Rock Cycle Notebook Pages
  • Rock Cycle Blank Pages – Posters
  • Hands-On Activity Ideas about the Three Types of Rock (starting on page 136)

Disclosure Notice: Please note that some of the links in this post (and in the shared packet) are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :) ~Liesl

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You might also be interested in our Earth Science Packet: We did a ton of hands-on activities as we studied

  • the solar system
  • layers of the Earth, Earth’s axis
  • compass directions, compass rose, how to use a compass
  • Earth’s geologic timeline
  • equator, latitude, longitude  — Using a globe to determine latitude and longitude
  • Pangaea and continental drift
  • understanding convection currents
  • tectonic plates
  • 4 types of mountains
  • 3 types of faults
  • earthquakes and faults
  • volcanoes – volcanic terms, types of volcanoes
  • earthquakes and building construction, earthquake shake table

Find out more by visiting this post: Earth Science Packet

Earth-Science-Packet 150 page - worksheets hands-on activities and more

Layers of the Earth - Interactive Notebook Activity Earth Science Activities Hands-On-Activities-EarthScienceUnitVolcano-Lapbook-Interactive-Notebook-PiecesTypes of Volcanoes Worksheets and Interactive Notebook Pages

You might also want to check out our Layers of the Atmosphere Packet 

Layers of the Atmosphere Packet - Worksheets Hands-On Activities Notebook Pages Layers of the Atmosphere Printable Activity Earth Systems - Atmosphere Geosphere Hydrosphere Notebook Activity - Earth System Lapbook Pieces Earth's Atmosphere Packet 50+ pagesYou will find this packet and more in our Store!

Here are some of the units we have available:

Animal Packet – Animal Characteristics, Vertebrates vs. Invertebrates, Insects vs. Spiders, Animal Tracks and more!

Animal Unit - 100-page Animal Characteristics Vertebrates Invertebrates Spiders Insects Animal Homes and more Animal-Unit-100-pages-worksheets-feathers-fur-scales-skin-vertebrates-invertebrates-insects-spiders

World Animal Packet

World Animal Unit - Worksheets Activities Montessori CardsBiology Unit: biomes, habitats, ecosystems and more!

Biology Unit - biomes biological interactionsFood Chain Food Web Food Pyramid Activties - Interactive Notebook Pages

The Three States of Matter

Three states of matter worksheetsPhysical and Chemical Properties of Matter

Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter Worksheets

Electricity and Circuits STEM Unit

Electricity and Circuits Worksheets and Activities



Rainforest Packet

Rainforest Unit Worksheets and Activities

Winter Packet

Winter Packet for Early Elementary

World Facts & Geographical Features Packet

Do your kids know the 4 largest countries? Which countries have the most people? The longest river? This packet covers basic world and U.S. facts. It also has a section on geographical features and landform words (both the basics like island, lake, peninsula, but also words like atoll, archipelago and so forth).  This packet also goes over some of the famous World Landmarks, world deserts and more!

World Facts Packet - Geographic Features Landform Words Topographic Maps

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :) Homeschool Den StoreAgain, you can click here to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter!


Happy Homeschooling, everyone!!  ~Liesl

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