Activities to Teach Students to Classify Rocks As Igneous, Sedimentary, or Metamorphic

Rocks are an essential component of the earth’s crust and have been fascinating people for centuries. However, without proper knowledge on how to classify them, it may be challenging to understand their properties and functions in the environment. The three primary classes of rocks are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Classifying these three categories is essential for earth science study.

In this article, we will explore different activities to help students understand how to classify rocks as igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic.

1. Rock Sort Game:

To begin, the teacher can let the students work in groups and provide them with a collection of rocks (this can be artificial or real rocks). Then, ask the students to sort the rocks into the three different classes – igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. The group that can classify the rocks correctly in the shortest amount of time wins.

2. Rock and Roll:

In this activity, the teacher can assign three different stations. Each of the stations will represent one of the three types of rocks. The stations should have rocks that represent the categories thoroughly.

At the first station, the teacher can provide the students with a bucket of rocks that have been melted and cooled. At the second station, the students will sort a collection of rocks that have been formed with different layers. At the final station, the teacher can provide students with rocks that have undergone the process of changing by heat or pressure.

The students will have a specific amount of time to work at each station, during which they will have to classify rocks based on the categories of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. This activity will help students understand why rocks are different and what influences their formation over time.

3. Categorizing Rocks:

The teacher can also provide the students with a collection of pictures of different rocks on different surfaces, highlighting factors such as their color, texture, layers, and overall appearance. The students will then have to classify the rocks as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic based on their observation.

This activity will help the students understand how factors such as temperature and pressure affect the different types of rocks, and this is done by identifying their unique features.

4. Comparing Rocks:

This activity can be done in pairs or small groups. The teacher can provide students with one rock from each class of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. The students will have to compare and contrast the rocks’ properties and explain how they fit into each class of rocks.

This activity will help students understand how to distinguish different types of rocks visually, and comprehend the effect of different physical and chemical processes that lead to changes in the rock types.


Classifying rocks will remain an essential aspect of an earth sciences study, and these different activities will allow students to develop a thorough understanding of rocks while having fun. Through the rock-sorting game, rock, and roll activity or comparing rocks, students will be able to identify the unique characteristics of different rock types and understand how they function and how they fit into the environment.    

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