Geology Activities & Games for Kids

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Learning about geology is fun, and these activities and games are no exception. This series of games and activities will allow students to master topics like rock formation, rock types and volcanic eruptions in an exciting, hands-on way.

Learning about Geology

Most students have a general interest in rocks, volcanoes and other earth processes, so these activities and games will likely pique their curiosity. These games and activities will give students a greater understanding of geology, or the study of the physical aspects and history of the earth, and can be used alongside geology textbook lessons or as standalone lessons.

What's that Rock?

This activity requires students to perform some tests that are commonly used to identify rocks.

Materials (per group)

  • Various rocks (try to obtain a variety of metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rocks)
  • Quartz (hardness test)
  • Tile or piece of porcelain (streak test)
  • Magnifying glasses (crystal test)
  • Hammer (cleavage test)
  • Vinegar (calcium carbonate test)
  • Key that shows students what the results of each test mean
    • Internet search of 'rock test key' should provide some options.

Activity Instructions

  • Students will perform several tests and/or observations on each rock and then use those clues to identify the rock using a key.
  • Have students create a chart like the one below in their notebook to record their observations.
  • The tests are as follows (additional information for some of tests follows the table):

Test Observation/Result
Calcium carbonate
  • Hardness: this scale goes from 1 (soft) to 10 (hard). Scratch the rock with a substance that has a known hardness (quartz, for example, has a hardness of 7). If the quartz easily scratches the rock, then students know that the hardness is less than 7.
  • Streak: Rub the rock sample on a piece of tile or porcelain and observe the streak's color.
  • Is calcium carbonate present? Pour vinegar on the sample and see if bubbles form.
  • Luster: How much light is reflected off of the sample. The type of luster can be non-metallic or metallic (does the rock look like a metal or not?).
  • Crystal: Are crystals present? If so, how many sides?
  • Cleavage: How easily the rock splits when hit with a hammer.

Starburst Rocks

This activity uses Starbursts to show how the three types of rocks form.


  • Starbursts (9 per student)
  • Wax paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hotplate, or other means of heating up the Starbursts
  • Sock
  • Several rocks


  • Begin by showing students several rocks and have students work together to write some observations/ways to classify the rocks into groups.
    • For example: color, crystals present, flaky, etc.
  • Now introduce the activity and tell them they will get to see how the three different rock types form.


1. Each student should begin with three unwrapped, stacked Starbursts.

2. Place a square of wax paper on top of a square of aluminum foil and place the three stacked Starbursts in the center of the wax paper.

3. Wrap the wax paper and then the aluminum foil around the stacked Starbursts, forming a bundle.

4. Smash the Starbursts (step on it, smash it, etc.).

5. Unwrap and observe the sedimentary 'rock.'

6. Have students draw their rock and write down what occurred to form it (pressure).


1. Repeat steps 1 through 3.

2. Place the Starbursts, wax paper and aluminum bundle on a hot plate and heat until it is soft (don't melt it completely).

3. Place the heated bundle into a sock (to prevent burning) and allow students to apply pressure (step on it, smash it).

4. Unwrap and observe. Have students draw the 'rock' and write down what occurred (heat and pressure).


1. Repeat steps 1 through 3.

2. Place the bundle on a hot plate and wait until the Starbursts melt.

3. Remove and unwrap and have students draw a picture and write what occurred (lots of heat).

Build a Volcano Game

This activity will allow teams to build a volcano and then the class will classify it as an effusive eruption, an explosive eruption or no eruption.


  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Paper cups
  • Film canisters (with lids)

Game Instructions

1. Before the activity, discuss types of volcanic eruptions (effusive and explosive).

2. Take a moment to brainstorm with students how mixing substances would result in a reaction. Students should take the lead and you can jot down some notes on the board.

  • For example: what do you think happens when vinegar and baking soda are mixed? Water and Alka-Seltzer? Vinegar and Alka-Seltzer? Vinegar and water?
  • Do not give actual answers to these questions, as the students are going to test their hypothesis of what combination will produce the biggest explosion.

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