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The Rock Cycle

The Rock Cycle

Author: Katie Hilscher

Fourth Grade California Content Standard Earth Sciences 4.4: The properties of rocks and minerals reflect the processes that formed them. As a basis for understanding this concept: 

a. Students know how to differentiate among igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks by referring to their processes and methods of formation (the rock cycle) 


1. Students will be able to distinguish between the different types of rocks and categorize them into three different groups.

2. Students will be able to name the three different types of rocks

3. Students will be able to describe the rock cycle

4. Students will be able to describe the different attributions of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks 

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What is the Rock Cycle?

The Rock Cycle is a concept in Geology that describes the transitions among three different types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. 

Vocabulary Terms

Weathering- the breaking down of rocks, soils, and other minerals when in contact with the Earth's atmosphere

Erosion- the process of removing soil, rock, and other dissolved material from the Earth's crust 

Cementation- the act of particles of sediment beginning to stick together by clay or other minerals 

Crystallization- the act of magma cooling and different crystals forming from different temperatures

Metamorphism- when a rock is exposed to extreme heat and pressure but does not melt, but may change the mineral composition 

Here's Bill!

Igneous Rocks

Igneous Rocks are formed by the hardening of magma. There are two types of igneous rocks.

1. Intrusive 

  • formed inside the Earth
  • formed from slow cooling magma
  • contain large crystals 

2. Extrusive 

  • formed at the Earth's surface
  • formed from rapid cooling magma
  • contain small crystals

Sedimentary Rocks

Sedimentary rocks are formed by the collection and fusion of different materials at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. These rocks are formed through weathering and may contain fossils, drinking water, or oil. These rocks can give us insight into what Earth was like in the past. 

To learn more about the different types of sedimentary rocks, visit this website:

Metamorphic Rocks

The word "metamorphic" means to change forms. Metamorphic rocks result from the transformation of a pre-exisitng rock, usually from heat and pressure. They are located deep within the Earth's surface and are not melted. 

The Rock Cycle

The Rock Cycle is a  group of changes. Igneous rock can change into sedimentary rock or into metamorphic rock. Sedimentary rock can change into metamorphic rock or into igneous rock. Metamorphic rock can change into igneous or sedimentary rock.

For more införmation regarding the different processes that take place during the rock cycle, visit https://learning-center.homesc... there is also a fun science project that you can try at home if you are interested. 

Fun Fact!

Mount Rushmore is composed of granite and mica-schist. Granite is an igneous rock and mica-schist is a metamorphic rock. 

We Will Rock You

Now for a little fun. This may help to remember the three different types of rocks better.

Time to put your thinking caps on!

Using the vocabulary terms presented in the lesson, describe the process of the rock cycle in specific regards to how each rock is formed. 

You may either answer this question in paragraph form, or you may draw a diagram. If you choose to draw diagram, please label it with the appropriate terms and processes. I will collect this from you at the end of class.