Rock Cycle - Rocks (KA)
Pre Lab 

  • Learning about rocks that are derived from volcanoes.
  • Distinguishing igneous rocks.
  • ash
  • igneous
  • lava
  • rock
  • volcano

Students identify different states of matter in the classroom.

Hawaiian volcano


Rocks are solid matter. Some feel heavy, some do not.  Rocks are made of minerals.  However, many times the minerals are very small and can only see with a microscope.

Rocks are forming around the world all the time. Volcanoes bring new lava to the Earth's surface which will later cool to become rock. Mud will become hard and eventually become a rock. Sand grains will get cemented together and become sandstone with time. Even humans will mix cement, gravel, and sand and make a human rock, called concrete. Rocks are all around us. We live on rocks. Soil comes from rock, dirt comes from rock, and buildings (other than those made of wood) come from rocks. Rocks are more important to our everyday lives than we realize.

Igneous rocks are considered the "Mother" of all rocks. Molten material cools down and becomes either a volcanic or plutonic igneous rocks. The term volcanic and plutonic help to understand the origin of where the rock cooled down. For instance, if magma cooled inside the Earth it is called plutonic. If molten rock (lava) moved upwards in a volcano and cooled it is called a volcanic rock.


  1. Remind students that they examined rocks from volcanoes when they studied plate tectonics. Those rocks are called volcanic rocks because they cooled outside of the volcano. Magma inside the Earth can also cool inside of the Earth and create rocks called plutonic rocks. All rocks that are cooled from magma or lava are called igneous rocks. Both volcanic and plutonic rocks are igneous rocks. Repeat these words several times. It is not as important for the students to remember the words as it is to introduce the terms.
  2. You may want to have students bring in pictures of volcanoes from magazines or from the Internet. Draw the following picture on the board to reinforce the main concepts of the lab.


  1. Read Rock Collecting to your students, which focuses on how rock collecting is easy and fun. However, in the book the author describes minerals as rocks. In children's books, this is a common error. It is better to acknowledge this error, because the children who do recognize it may be confused.

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