Mineral Identification Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lisa Hanson

Lisa is a Continuous Improvement Coach for her school district and has taught in elementary school for many years. She has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

When we think of minerals, we tend to think of expensive ones, like gold and diamonds, but minerals are all around us. In this lesson you'll learn about some of the different ways to identify minerals around you

What Is a Mineral?

While you're out on the playground you find a pretty rock. You notice different colors, textures, and stripes. What are those different materials? Those are minerals. Minerals are natural, non-living substances found in rocks. Rocks are like chocolate chip cookies, and minerals are like the ingredients in the cookies. Just like you need flour and sugar to make cookies, you also need minerals to make rocks. We identify minerals by their properties, or characteristics. Color, luster, streak, and hardness are the properties that you will learn more about.


Minerals can be any color in the rainbow. Some minerals, like amethyst, are always the same color (purple). Other minerals, like quartz, can be many different colors. Color is one way to identify a mineral, but because some minerals can be various colors there needs to be other properties that we observe to accurately identify them. Using all of the properties together will give us the best picture.


Luster is the way light reflects off a mineral. When you hold it up to the light it can look metallic, dull, shiny, glassy, or pearly. A mineral that has a metallic luster looks like it is made from metal.

Calcite has a glassy luster.

Some minerals have more than one luster. If you can determine its luster, you are another step closer to identifying your mineral.


If you take the rough edge of a mineral and scrape it across a tile it leaves behind a colored powder. That powder is the mineral's streak. The color can be the same as the color of the mineral, but often times it is a different color or shade. Even when a mineral like quartz has different colors, it will still have the same color streak every time.

Pyrite has a streak that is blackish-green and rhodochrosite has a white streak.
mineral streak

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account