The Pebble In My Pocket - Rocks and Soils
Pebble In My Pocket by Meredith Hooper is a picture book aimed at older primary children. It tells the dynamic story of rock formation; showing the reader the processes that the pebble goes through from its beginnings in a fiery volcano 480 million years ago - how it is moulded by fire, then shaped by erosion. The reader follows this journey right through to the moment it is picked up and placed into someone’s pocket. The beautiful illustrations give us not only the story of the pebble but of evolution too – giving the reader an indication of both time passing and setting the pebble into a much wider context. The story provides the perfect setting for :
As a parallel to the book, as the pebble is shaped over time, the pupils could explore how water shapes the landscape through erosion. There are lots of mathematical opportunties exploring the passing of time over the millenia. At the back of the book is a fantastic timeline linking the geological periods with periods of evolution.
Other fiction books with a similar theme:
Pebble: A Story about Belonging – Susan Milord
Links and Resources
This video presented by Professor Alice Roberts is full of useful information for teachers planning work around fossils. The animation explains how an ammonite becomes fossilised over time. Plus practical ideas for the classroom
Within this unit by Hamilton Trust there lies lots of practical advice for studying rocks. The children could use the tips such as the scratch test and the guidance for observing rocks to decide which type of rock the pebble in their pocket is. Is it an igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock?
This brilliant resource by the Royal Society of Chemistry comprehensively explores identifying rocks. By working through a series of keys your children will be able to identify the pebble in their pocket. They could investigate, its hardness, permeability, whether it is magnetic or conducts electricity. You could encourage the children to consider how their pebble has been shaped by erosion - whether the erosion was mechanical or chemical and how their pebble fits into the rock cycle.
The resource also includes the Hardness scale developed by Frederick Mohs.
The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is a UK-wide citizen science initiative that allows you to get hands-on with nature, whatever your age, background or level of ability. Your contribution is important in helping scientists build up a picture of the UK's natural environment.This survey explores the health of our soils. To get started simply follow the simple survey instructions and straightforward ID guides.
The children will look closely at the soils within your school grounds. Measuring its pH, look closely at the soil composition and identify the soil type. After that they will charm the worms to the surface, identify their species and do a count. They then upload your data to contribute to building up the national picture about the natural world.
Our understanding of fossils has changed over time. For example, when the bottom of a dinosaurs' thigh bone was found in 1676, people assumed it was the bone of a giant! This resource encourages children to consider how science isn't a fixed set of facts but a lifelong journey of enquiry.
In the 1970s, a scientist found a way of working out the speed an animal was running by measuring its hip height and stride length - the distance between footsteps - and this can be used on fossil trails to find out how fast the dinosaur was moving when it made the tracks!
The children could investigate their own speed and then use that information to compare themselves to a variety of dinosaurs. In terms of speed, size and height.
This resource by the British Science Association looks at Earth Science. With strong emphasis on STEM - the children are encouraged to become farmers. They are asked to think about soil - its composition. Breaking down soil into its four main parts - air, water, organic matter and minerals - the children look closely, analysing the soil in terms of its porosity, particle sizes, texture, colour and acidity. The children could then utilise this learning when considering how they might improve the soil in their school gardens.
Next the children are asked to take on the role of palaeontologists looking at fossil evidence, piecing fossils together. These activities are great for nurturing children's observational skills.