Free Nature Studies: A Story of the Rocks

Free Nature Studies: A Story of the Rocks

Free Nature Studies: A Story of the Rocks

Read the current chapter online: “A Story of the Rocks”

Takeaway: Soil is formed by the weathering rocks and the decay of plant and animal matter.

  • Copy and illustrate Job 38:4-6.
  • Make a chart showing the different sizes of rocks as described in the lesson.  On one side list the rock sizes mentioned (boulder, pebble, cobbles and sand). You may also find this chart of actual sizes at helpful.
  • Examine slate.
  • Polish some pebbles of your own — without a rock tumbler.  You’ll find help below.
  • “Water rocks,” “fire rocks,” and “changed rocks” have the scientific names of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks.  Use a three-fold lapbook template or other notebooking page to show examples and write brief descriptions of each.  You’ll find resources below.
  • How long does it take to form rocks?  Scientists do not agree.  Here is something to think about: “No Slow and Gradual Erosion” by Andrew A. Snelling.  If your children are old enough, this may be a good time to review the different views of how the earth was formed and learn more about the geologic column.
  • How long does it take to form sedimentary rocks?  Answer from a scientist at Ohio State University Institute of Technology.
  • Something to do #1: Find out “what on earth is soil” (information from the USDA).
  • Something to do #2: Find out some ways that hills are formed.
  • Something to do #3: Go on a rock hunt.  Collect and identify several different types of rocks to include in a rock notebook. Include their characteristics (sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic, color, and other features).  You’ll find helpful resources below.
  • Something to do #4: You’ll find activities below to help with this experiment.
  • Something to do #5: If you can find a safe one, a hill where a road has been cut through is a great place to look at soil layers.  For help, use this Soil Detectives guide and observation sheet at
  • Something to do #6: There is a very interesting section called “The Brook” in the Handbook of Nature Study that will guide you through studying the action of water after a rain.  Of particular interest: Lesson 208: How a Brook Drops Its Load.
  • Something to do #7: You may want to copy Psalm 147:5 into your rock notebook!
  • Memorize Psalm 104:1-9 or Isaiah 40:12.
  • Read “Great, Wide, Beautiful, Wonderful World” by William Brighty Rands.
  • Read aloud Psalm 148:1-5.
  • More about a story of the rocks from the Book of Knowledge:

    Soil is made up of mineral and organic matter.  The mineral part is rock that has been broken down and chemically altered by a process called weathering.  The organic part is composed of decayed plants and micro-organisms (very small forms of life).  Most soils are made up largely of mineral matter, but there are exceptions….

    Very often the soil lying over a certain rock foundation has been carried there from some distant place.  Therefore it can hardly claim any direct kinship to the underlying rock.  On the other hand, the rock foundation is constantly forming new soil….

    There are many processes involved in the formation of the soil.  First, there is the weathering of the rock.  This takes many years of exposure to wind and rain, the heat of the summer sun, freezing winters, the action of ocean currents, rivers and glaciers.  Bit by bit the rock is broken down, and chemical changes take place as the minerals come in contact with the water and air.  Then, at some point when the weathering of the rock has gone far enough, plant and animal life enter into the soil-building process.  The plants die and decay.  Micro-organism exist on this decayed matter, and in return leave in the soil organic compounds which the plants use as food.

    “The Earth: The Soil,” The Book of Knowledge

  • Rocks and Minerals
    Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature Study covers the different types of rocks and minerals beginning on page 743, and continuing through page 759.  You may also be interested in the section on soil which follows.


Further Investigation

Land Erosion
What it is, what causes it, and the different types at

5-Minute Refresher: Weathering and Erosion
Learn the difference at the Siemens Foundation.

The Rock Cycle
Mineralogical Society of America walks you through the three different types of rocks (use menu on right to navigate).

How Do Igneous Rocks Form?
This McDougal Littell interactive walks you through exploration and identification processes.

Observe an Animation of Clastic Sedimentary Rocks Forming
Another McDougal Littell interactive.

Observe an Animation of Metamorphic Rocks Forming
McDougal Littell interactive.

Mineral Properties
Mineralogical Society of America helps for identification (use buttons on right to navigate).

The Interior of the Earth
Explanation from the USGS.

Soil Layers
Diagrams from

When Rocks Tell Stories: Describing Rock Properties
Help on identifying rocks at USGS.



Weathering and Erosion Lab
Experiment at the National Park Service that helps explain the difference.

Analysis of the Soil Composition
Experiment at

Erosion of the Soil
Another experiment at

Making Sandstone
Experiment at for making and investigating sedimentary rocks.

The Rock Cycle
Interactive at Pearson Learning that explains the processes.

Mineral Identification
Mineralogical Society of America interactive for identifying the rock you hold in your hand.

Metamorphic Rock Activities
Two different activities at to investigate how metamorphic rocks are created along with discussion questions.

Metamorphic Rocks: Melting Rocks
Experiment at looks at the power of heat involved in the process … and it involves food!

Classifying Rocks
Now that you have a rock sample, what do you do with it?  Identify and classify, of course! Help at

Rock Sorting Challenge
Simple sorting activity for the youngest student at the Utah Education Network.

Rock Description Table
Describe-what-you-see activity at USGS that includes the different properties and a helpful chart for recording.

The Virtual Rock Lab
Interactive from

Start Your Rock Collection
Interactive at where you “collect” rocks to learn about them.  Then you are asked to point out the characteristics you would expect to find in each.

Home-Made Geodes
Great project at

Find Earth Materials
Interactive at that helps you recognize rocks and minerals we use every day!

Rocks and Soils
BBC interactive “rock tester” that helps you determine the characteristics of five different rocks.



The Geology Book by Dr. John D. Morris
Inside the earth, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, plains, plateaus and mountains, erosion, deposition, fossilization, faults, geological dating, with a look at the great geologic events of the past: Creation, the Fall, the Flood and the Ice Age.  A free study guide is also available at the publisher’s site.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and MineralsRocks and Minerals
A family favorite rock identification guide.

Earth's Landforms & Surface FeaturesDiscovering Earth’s Landforms & Surface Features by Dinah Zike
One of the Great Science Adventures from Common Sense Press, this title includes the three types of rocks, fossils, soil, minerals, weathering and erosion.  Following an “inquire, discover, and apply” approach, the student creates his own foldables while investigating concepts.  You’ll find a sample lesson at the publisher’s site.


Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

What is a Mineral?
Lesson plan at that investigates minerals by looking at various properties.  Includes Moh’s Hardness Scale.

Rock Cycle Diagram
McDougal Littell lesson plan that includes copying the diagram and writing descriptions.

Life Cycle of a Mineral Deposit
40-page download at the that includes background information, lesson plan, ten activities, charts, and helpful glossary.


Printables & Notebooking Pages

The Rock Cycle
Identify and label sheet for notebook at  (You’ll find answers in the helps above.)

Rock & Mineral Identification Flow Charts has great charts to help identify rocks and minerals. Best of all, they will fit in a notebook!

Igneous Rock Identification Chart
The various types and their composition.

MSB Rocky Road Trip Lapbook
These lapbook foldables at work very nicely without the book.

Minerals in Our Environment
Poster at

Mineral Resources
Another poster at USGS.

Be a Rock Hound
Guided nature notebook page from Ranger Rick.

A Story of the Rocks Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, and Something to Do #1.


Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World