Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Lesson Duration:
30 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
State Standards:
NGSS 4-Ess1-1.
Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.

Essential Question

What is the relationship between locations and rock types?


Students will be able to identify the major rock formation types in various national parks.


  • Teacher will need to know the three main types of rocks and how they are formed.
  • Teacher will need to have access to a computer lab for students with internet to access national park websites (2 students per computer)


  • Access to National Park Service website
  • National parks for students to research: Capitol Reef NP, Arches NP, Hawai‘i Volcanoes NP, Rocky Mountain NP, Yosemite NP, Pinnacles NP, Shenandoah NP, Mesa Verde NP, Zion NP, Grand Teton NP, Grand Canyon NP, Mount Rainier NP, Olympic NP, Acadia NP, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
  • Computer lab for student access
  • White board and markers


Lesson Hook/Preview

Play Rockity Rock Rock Rock game to get students ready for rock formation identification. (See lesson 1)


  • Step One: Play Rockity Rock Rock Rock
  • Step Two: Have student log onto computers and direct them to the National Park service site. Write website on the board for them to type into the URL.
  • Step Three: Students will be assigned different National Park sites to read to determine which type of rocks make up the major formations in the Park. (Capitol Reef NP, Arches NP, Hawai‘i Volcanoes NP, Rocky Mountain NP, Yosemite NP, Pinnacles NP, Shenandoah NP, Mesa Verde NP, Zion NP, Grand Teton NP, Grand Canyon NP, Mount Rainier NP, Acadia NP, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument)
  • Step Four: Students will take acquired information and write the name of their Park and rock formation type on the white board to share with the rest of the class.
  • Step Five: When finished with their first Park, they may go to the other listed sites to research the types of rocks found in the other parks.
  • Step Six: Assessment: Teacher will look at student work on the whiteboard to see if they have correctly identified the major rock formations in their Park.
  • Step Seven: Each team will present to the class why they came to their conclusion of rock type for their Park. They will have less then two minutes to present.


Igneous Rocks: form when hot, liquid rock, or magma, cools. When this magma slowly cools underground, it forms intrusive igneous rock. Magma that quickly cools aboveground becomes extrusive igneous rock.


Sedimentary Rocks: result when various weathering processes break down other types of rocks into particles, or sediment, or when once-living organisms accumulate. With the help of time and external pressures, these sediments get compacted into sedimentary rock.


Metamorphic Rocks: are created through the metamorphosis, or change, of other types of rocks. This normally happens deep underground where heat, pressure, and chemical activity can actually alter the minerals inside rocks.


Geologists: scientists who study rocks and recognize three major groups of rocks.

Assessment Materials

Teacher Observation

Students will write down their national park and its major type of rock on the white board.

Supports for Struggling Learners

Struggling learners will be grouped with other students during their research on the computer.

Enrichment Activities

Excelling learners will have the opportunity to further research other national parks on their own after completing assigned work.

Additional Resources

Contact Information

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Last updated: April 7, 2023