Unit 2:

Rocks and Minerals


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During this unit of study your child will focus on uncovering the following key concepts:

  1. The surface of the Earth is constantly changing. 

  2. Rocks are made up of minerals.

  3. Minerals and rocks are formed in a cyclic pattern over a very long period of time.

  4. Rocks are worn away through weathering and erosion to make sediments.

  5. Rocks can be classified as sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous based on how they are formed.

  6. The surface of the Earth is continuously changing. 

Your child will learn to use a model called the rock cycle to help describe the variety of changes that can occur with rocks. The rock cycle model will demonstrate how sediments are formed and deposited through weathering and erosion by wind, waves, water, and glacier movement. 

During this unit of study, students will also examine and describe different Earth materials. They will compare and contrast the properties of rocks, minerals, sand, silt, clay and clay. They will learn that sand, silt, and clay are small particles of minerals and rocks that have been weathered and eroded to form sediments.  

The making of models and the ability to demonstrate and explain concepts using a model is an important component in this unit. Your child will make models of Earth’s processes that take a very long time and cannot be observed in the lifetime of humans. Students will be actively engaged in making a model to demonstrate the rock cycle, weathering, and erosion. It is important to stress that the models have limitations in mimicking what happens over millions of years. If the limitations are recognized, students can learn a great deal by building a model using materials that will react in a short period of time. 


During this unit students will also participate in a differentiated informational text study called Shaping the Earth's Surface. This themed text set explains some of the different forces that change the Earth's surface: wind, water, ice, and earthquakes/volcanoes. While each book is a different text level and focuses on a different force of nature and its effects on Earth's surface, the same key concepts are developed across books to help students focus on the big ideas. There are three key concepts students will discover during this text study:


  1. Different forces shape landforms that make up Earth's surface. 

  2. Earth's surface changes in different ways. 

  3. People try to control, or at least understand, the effect of forces that shape Earth's surface. 


During this text study, student learning will focus on the following areas of literacy development:

  • Comprehension Strategy - Asking Questions

  • Visual Literacy - Cutaway Diagram

  • Vocabulary Acquisition - Content Words in Context

  • Genre Study - Cause/Effect Article

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