Geology Teaching Ideas for Upper Elementary

If you teach geology in upper elementary, this post is for you! It includes links to resources and ideas to make planning easy.

Planning for you geology unit just got a bit easier. Rocks may seem to be just a solid mass of material that we step on and overlook. However, once students have knowledge of rock types and the rock cycle learned from geology studies, they no longer ignore them. Kids love analyzing rocks!

In this post, I’ll be sharing materials and ideas aligned with the fifth grade geology standards under SOL 5.7. The main concepts include rock types, the rock cycle, Earth’s history and fossils, Earth’s Layers and plate tectonics, weathering, erosion, and how human’s can protect the environment.

Best Books for Geology Studies:

One of the best ways to reach all students in your room is by using text sets at various reading levels. Often, science textbooks aren’t geared to the reading levels of the students you are teaching, so it may be necessary to supplement with other reading options. We know with repeated reading, it increases the likelihood that students will remember the concepts. Here’s a bibliography of books by topic to get you started.

Rock Types:

  • Rhoda’s Rock Hunt by Mollie Beth Griffin
  • National Geographic Rocks and Minerals by Kathleen Zoehfeld
  • Learning about Rocks by Mari Schuh
If you teach geology in upper elementary, this post is for you! It includes links to resources and ideas to make planning easy.

Rock Cycle:

  • The Rock Factory: The Story about the Rock Cycle by Jacqui Bailey
  • What is the Rock Cycle? by Natalie Hyde
  • Super Simple Rock Cycle Projects by Jessie Alkire


  • Rocks and Fossils by Anna Claybourne
  • Curious about Fossils by Kate Waters
  • Fossils Tell about Long Ago by Aliki

Plate Tectonics

  • Fault Lines and Tectonic Plates by Kathleen Reilly
  • Plate Tectonics by Julia Quinlan

Weathering and Erosion

  • Weathering and Erosion by Maria Nelson
  • Erosion and Weathering (Rocks: The Hard Facts) by Willa Dee
  • Weathering and Erosion by Torrey Maloaf
If you're teaching a rocks and minerals unit, then this blog post is one not to miss. It's filled with lots of FREE teaching ideas and resources to make your planning easy and learning fun. Check it out and be sure to PIN FOR LATER.

Protecting the Environment:

  • What a Waste! by Jess French
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • Recycle! A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons

Activities that Support Geology Studies:

As you’re planning your science unit, be sure to check out this Pinterest board filled with links to FREE printables, experiment ideas, educational videos, and projects. You will find cross curricular materials that support reading, writing, math, and creativity with emphasis on PBL and STEAM for instruction, research, and assessment. Feel free to repin from the board to your own collection, and certainly, add the images from this post so you can come back when the time is right.

Geology Resources from the Virginia is for Teachers Team:

Rockin’ the Rock Cycle Partner Play by Comprehension Connection

This FUN partner play is great for integrating reading with your geology unit. This partner play works well for small group reading lessons and helps students who may need a little extra support review key concepts in SOL 5.7. The reading level is approximately 4th grade, and the set includes close reading activities for repeated reading and comprehension reinforcement. $3.00

Earth Science Bundle by Glitter in Third

This digital resource from Glitter in Third addresses SOL5.7. It includes digital graphic organizers and foldables that you can use in combination with your other instructional materials to help your students with research and note taking. It also includes drag and drop labeling for assessment. $15.00

Geology Unit by Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom

From Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom, check out this all inclusive unit has lesson plans, experiment ideas, center activities, word wall materials, a quiz and a test in digital for Google Slides TM and PDF. It addesses all standards under 5.7 including layers of the Earth, plate techtonics, rock types, the Rock Cycle, weathering and erosion. It sells for $14.00

Geology Close Reading Sets by The Techie Teacher

Although Julie, The Techie Teacher, no longer lives in Virginia, she’ll always be a VA Blogger! This set in her store is aligned with SOL 5.7 and offers another cross curricular option to support your science standards during the ELA block. There are four reading passages with comprehension questions. $3.50

Free Resources for Geology Studies:

This Rock Cycle Doodle Notes freebie would work well with many teaching options.
This rocks and minerals vocabulary card sets would be very helpful to your students.
This Rock Cycle Project looks like lots of fun. Hands on learning is always a plus!
Anchor charts are always handy and these rock type charts will be great for teaching.
Weather, erosion, and deposition just got easier with this great free resource from Laura Candler
This activity goes with Brain Pop's Plate Tectonics video.

Geology is a really fun unit to teach, and kids really do find more interest in rocks after the unit is complete. With emphasis on weathering and erosion as well as environmental studies, hopefully your students will also become good stewards for our planet too.

links to other science posts you’d like:



Carla is a licensed reading specialist with 27 years of experience in the regular classroom (grades 1, 4, and 5), in Title 1 reading, as a tech specialists, and a literacy coach. She has a passion for literacy instruction and meeting the needs of the individual learner.