Year 3: Rocks

This list consists of lesson plans, activities and video clips to support the teaching of rocks in Year Three. It contains tips on using the resources, suggestions for further use and background subject knowledge. Possible misconceptions are highlighted so that teachers may plan lessons to facilitate correct conceptual understanding. Designed to support the new curriculum programme of study it aims to cover many of the requirements for knowledge and understanding and working scientifically. The statutory requirements are that children are taught to:

  • compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties
  • describe in simple terms how fossils are formed when things that have lived are trapped within rock
  • recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic matter.

Visit the primary science webpage to access all lists.

Links and Resources

Teeth, Springs, Rocks and Other Topics

Use short clip to get children thinking about the properties of different rocks and their uses. Starting at 4:14 it shows three different types of rock and asks children to match them to their use. It could be used as a starter or a plenary when comparing and grouping rocks based on their physical properties.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Rocks: rocks and fossils

Be a rock detective in this series of lesson plans including full notes for teachers and all materials for running the lesson(except the rocks!)

From page 23 there are a series of whole class investigations, each focussing on a different way of working scientifically. Activity 10 on page 34 could be used when looking at which rocks erode the most and could be linked to writing a short conclusion after investigating.

Other activities include sorting and naming rocks, testing hardness and other properties, carrying out tests on soil samples and observing how rocks are used around the school.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Selenia: Visiting Dinosaurs

This colourful comic will appeal to most children and is certainly a different way of introducing a science lesson. Great for use when teaching children about the properties of materials. It contains an explanation of hardness, activity sheets and detailed notes on carrying out an investigation to test the hardness of materials. The focus of the activity could be on making careful observations and recording findings in a suitable way.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Earth

This resource contains practical activity ideas and background knowledge for teachers on rocks. All page numbers refer to the pdf document.

Compare rock samples by looking at colour, weight, hardness and other physical properties. Then carry out tests to see if they are magnetic, permeable, hard or easily split - Pages 42-49.  Children could decide how to collect, record and present data in this investigation.

Pages 66 and 67 discuss metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks and include an activity on making sedimentary rock.

Observe rocks in use in churches and your own school and link in to exploration of how they may have changed over time- pages 38-41

Learn how to take an impression or a wax rubbing of a fossil on pages 74-75.

publication year
1980 - 1989

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The Variety of Life Teachers’ Guide (Ages 7-12)

Providing activity ideas,background knowledge for teachers and misconceptions about fossils.

Ask children to bring in the oldest thing they have and place it on a timeline. Try creating a timeline including key events from history which they will have studied. Then ask them to place when they think the fossil will go. This will help children start to deveop an understanding of the timescale of fossil formation.

publication year
1990 - 1999

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Earth Science for Primary Teachers: an INSET Handbook

This is a treasure chest of ideas for teaching about fossils, containing ideas for use in class or for an inset activity to help teachers prepare for this new topic.

looking at fossils of plants and animals may help children see that fossils are not 'bits of bones' but were once living creatures.

The activity idea on page 32 involves making a replica of a fossil. Making your own fossil is a way to help children see how fossils are formed. It is worth noting that there are three main types of fossil: the true form fossil, trace fossil and mold fossil.

True Form Fossils are made of an actual plant or animal. The hard parts of the body like the bones or stems were trapped in rock and effectively preserved. The soft parts of the body like the skin and muscle usually decompose before fossilization can occur. It is an important point that the organism has been replaced by mineral deposits as some children will think that the original organism is inside the fossil.

Trace Fossils reveal information about the animal's lifestyle and include fossilised footprints and fecal matter.

Mold fossils are hollow impressions left by a plant or animal. The surrounding mud and sediment hardens around the dead organism and only an imprint of it remains after decomposition. A cast fossil may form when sediment fills in a hollow mold fossil. The cast is a natural occurring replica of the actual organism.

publication year
1990 - 1999

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Darwin and Natural Selection

Get your hands dirty in this fun activity which models the following stages in the formation and finding of fossils: erosion, sedimentation, creatures dying and being buried, fossilisation of hard remains, fossils uncovered. Children carry out a simulation of the process, adding model dinosaurs, ferns, leaves and shells helps them to see that fossils which have been found were once living things.

The 'Hands on Activity' section parts 3 and 4 relate to the area of rocks.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Fossil Hunter

This ‘Fossil Hunter’ activity links to work on rocks and also evolution and inheritance. Place the fossil photo cards with information on the back of them around the classroom, then ask children to move around the class finding the images of different fossils. Children think about what each fossil might have been and also what each one might tell fossil hunters about the past, they may record this in the recording sheet as they move around the class.

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Dinosaur Fossil Animation Sequence Activity

This computing animation project is a nice link to fossils. It teaches the concept of sequencing within programs. Children use costumes and a range of commands in Scratch to produce animations. They are encouraged to debug and improve the program, and can extend the challenge by recording sound as well as requesting user input such as key presses.

 

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Edible model rocks

In this activity, students will learn about the three main types of Earth rocks and make edible analogues to help explain how they form. They will then use the ideas from this activity to investigate and suggest what some of the samples in the meteorite hunters boxes might be.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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