Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about rocks and minerals. It is designed to complement the Rocks and Minerals topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

What are rocks made out of? In this movie, children will explore rocks, and learn how to describe rocks by its properties, like color, luster, texture, and hardness. Children will also find out how geologists and other scientists study rocks to learn about Earth and what our planet was like long ago. The movie also reveals how we use rocks and minerals every day.

Rocks and minerals are all around us. Earth’s crust and part of its mantle are made of rock. Rocks are made of minerals and have different properties, meaning different characteristics or traits. The properties of rocks include color, texture, luster, and hardness. We use rocks and minerals in many different ways. The steel in our buildings are made with iron, which is a mineral. The clay and glass used in our pottery and dishes are made of a mixture of rocks and minerals. We even need minerals to stay healthy, and we get them from a variety of different foods. A geologist is a scientist who studies rocks and land to learn about Earth and its history. Your children can practice being geologists by observing and comparing different rocks.

Rock is a natural, nonliving aggregate of minerals. Earth’s outer sections, or lithosphere, include the crust and part of the mantle, which are made of rock. The crust of the Earth is made of two categories of rocks: basaltic and granitic. Basaltic rock is beneath the seafloor, and our continents consist of granitic rock. The mantle is beneath the crust, and is a thick layer of hot, solid rock made of magnesium, silicon, iron and oxygen. The mantle comprises about two-thirds of the Earth’s bulk. Geologists are scientists who study rocks and land to learn about Earth and its history. Rocks provide clues about what Earth looked like millions of years ago. Encourage your children to observe rocks in different ways.

Rocks are made of minerals. Some rocks, such as granite, are comprised of several minerals, including quartz, feldspar, and mica. Other rocks, such as gold or silver, are made of only one mineral. Geologists observe the properties, or traits, of rocks to help them understand, identify, and categorize them. For example, color is a property. Some rocks like shale or obsidian are dark gray or black. Other rocks, like quartz, come in a range of colors like white, pink, or yellow. Texture is a property that describes how an object feels. Some rocks are smooth, such as those found in rivers or at the beach, while other rocks are rough and bumpy, such as those found at the base of a mountain. Luster describes how an object looks under light. Some rocks are shiny and metallic, such as gold or pyrite. Other rocks are duller in tone, and not as reflective. Hardness is another property of rocks. The hardest mineral is diamond, and the only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond. The softest mineral is talc, which can be scratched by a fingernail and ground into fine grains, as in talcum powder.

We use rocks and minerals in many different ways. Encourage your children to think about how they use rocks and where they find them. The steel used to construct buildings is made of iron, which is a mineral. The counters in their kitchens may be made of granite, which is a rock. Bricks are made by blending and compressing rocks and minerals, usually sand, clay, and limestone. Our sidewalks are made of concrete, which is a mixture of crushed rocks and limestone. Clay pottery, porcelain dishes, and glasses are all made from rocks and minerals, too. People and animals get minerals from the foods they eat. Calcium and phosphorus, minerals found in milk and dark greens, help us build strong and healthy bones. Many fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, magnesium, and other minerals that our bodies need. Even salt is a combination of minerals.

Encourage children to see rocks in a whole new light. Remind them that the Stone Age earned its name because our ancestors used stones for tools, lived in caves, and utilized rocks for fire pits. Today, rocks provide us with sidewalks and buildings, and also give us sand, glass, and mirrors. In addition, minerals are essential for healthy bodies. Rocks are a natural resource, something from nature that people use and value. How do people use rocks everyday? How would the world change if we did not have rocks? Discuss the importance of this natural resource with your children.