An introduction to geology with rock cycle activities for middle and high school. This is a great homeschool nature study and a simple way to explore rocks as a nature study in your own backyard!
Rock Study of Granite and Other Igneous Rocks
Note To the Parent: There is a lot of great information in this study, far more than can be covered in a week. Use this study as an introduction to geology as it relates to nature study in your own backyard or neighborhood. Read the information in the Handbook of Nature Study and share any facts or ideas with your child that make sense to you. Keep it simple.
Rock Cycle Activities, Nature Study Lesson Plans andInside Prep Work For Your Homeschool:
Read the Handbook of Nature Study pages 743-750 (Introduction to Rocks and Minerals and Lessons 209—210).
For this challenge, concentrate on Lesson 209– Granite. You can also observe other igneous rocks: basalt, obsidian, and pumice.
View the images and the videos in the Additional Links section below.
Go exploring for rocks. Bring along a collecting box or bag and see if you can find some rocks, particularly granite or other igneous rocks. Remember what you read in the Handbook of Nature Study and the images you viewed in your preparation.
Collect some samples to bring inside to look at closely. Make sure to take a photo for your Rock Photo Scavenger Hunt notebook page.
Follow-Up Rock Cycle Activities For Your Homeschool:
Choose one of the rocks you collected outdoors and look at it closely using a hand lens. If you collected some granite, can you distinguish the various components? Record your observations in your nature journal.
Advanced study: Diagram and describe the rock cycle in your nature journal.
Advanced study: Use your observation skills and record your information in your nature journal. Use a rock identification key to identify your igneous rock.
This month we made sure to observe carefully the granite rocks in Yosemite National Park. We didn’t collect any because that isn’t allowed in a national park but we did learn a little more about the granites found there with a trip to the Visitor’s Center. They have a fabulous display of granites, showing the rock cycle and the way this particular granite was formed.
Everywhere you go in the park you are surrounded by granite! Granite of all shapes and sizes lines the trails and creates the majestic valley walls you see all around you. The biggest piece of granite that looms over you in the valley would be El Capitan.It is a rock climber’s heaven and we read in the Visitor’s Center that the granite that makes up El Capitan was cooled slowly which makes it particularly strong and resistant to erosion. We watched the climbers up there on the nearly 3,600 foot granite face…amazing courage to be up there!
The exhibit has many interesting facts about the granites of Yosemite National Park.
There were also samples of the different granites from different areas of the part…each one with a little different combination of elements. Fascinating!
So even though we didn’t actually collect a sample from Yosemite, we have plenty of other granite samples from our travels locally. We are continuing to work our way through the Rocks, Fossils, and Arrowheads book.
We have high hopes of studying two rocks in June as we travel to Oregon. I know that if we didn’t make this project part of the nature study goals for 2013 we would have let it drop. But, I am determined to get as many done this year as possible.
Outdoor Hour Challenge: This week try to find at least one specific rock to collect and observe. If you need to, pick a rock from your collection and use that as your subject. Use your outdoor time to slow down and really look for rocks or if you have snow on the ground, try to remember where there are rocks in your neighborhood and plan for a future rock hunt when the weather is more agreeable.
You may wish to complete the granite or the quartz challenge that were previously posted here on the Handbook of Nature Study: Granite Study Quartz Study
You may pick any rock to study that you have on hand. There are several other rocks listed in the Table of Contents for the Handbook of Nature Study that you may wish to use in your study.
Printable Activity: Rock Observation Chart: Use this printable chart to examine several of your rocks carefully. This is a little more advanced activity using vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to you. The activity is meant to be a simplified exercise in learning how to use deductive reasoning to identify your rock sample.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #7.We are focusing on rocks this month so you can start your own rock field guide using the directions and notebook page in this challenge. You can record your observations from the printable activity above on your rock field guide card if you wish.
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