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20 October 2014
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Rocks and soils - lesson plan

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  1. To compare the properties of rocks and relate these properties to the use of rocks.
  2. To describe and group rocks on the basis of their characteristics.

National Curriculum

Sc3, 1a, 1d.


  • Online activities:
    • Bitesize rocks and soils section: play, quiz
  • Worksheets:
  • Other resources
    • Cards showing names of rocks (eg granite, sandstone)
    • Interactive whiteboard
    • Computers (one for each group)

You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.

Teaching activities


  1. Play the Bitesize rocks and soils quiz as a class to assess what the children already know.
  2. Take a short walk around the school grounds, pointing out and asking the children to identify objects made from rocky materials (eg brick wall, concrete path).
  3. Ask the children what materials these structures are made of, what properties they have and what all these materials have in common.
  4. Point out hardness, strength, and inflexibility.
  5. Return to the classroom and make a list of the rocky materials the class has spotted.
  6. Ask the children if they can think of any more rocky materials to add to the list.


  1. Bring up the Bitesize rocks and soils activity on the interactive whiteboard. Explain to children that they are going to carry out a virtual experiment to investigate the properties of rocks.
  2. Show the children how to click and drag a rock into the tester and how to perform the four different tests on it: Does it wear well? Does it split? Is it permeable? Does it float?
  3. Before clicking on each of the tests, ask the children to predict how the rock will fare. Were they right?
  4. Divide the children into groups, with a computer for each group.
  5. Ask the groups to perform all four tests on each of the rocks.
  6. Walk around the groups, asking questions and encouraging the children to click on the magnifying glasses to find out more information about each rock.
  7. Display key rock names around the room (eg granite, sandstone) throughout the lesson. Call out questions related to the quiz (eg "A rock that is permeable" - ask the children to run to the name of that rock).


Lower ability - Draw a table on the whiteboard with the names of rocks down one side and properties across the top (including visual properties such as shape and colour). Ask different children to fill in the table with their observations from the activity and to suggest uses for each rock. Discuss the properties of each rock to decide as a class if each suggestion is feasible.

Higher ability - Ask the children to devise their own table, as above.


Ask the children to devise an investigation question about their learning and to create a two-part conclusion relating to their findings.


  1. Hand out copies of the Rocks and soils worksheet (PDF 73KB).
  2. Ask the children to use the sheet to record rocky materials they see in their local environment or at home.
  3. Point out the distinction between the object and what it is made of.
  4. The children could use this research to compose scientific sentences, such as "The roof is made of slate because slate is impermeable and will keep the contents dry."

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