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Weathering Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Dacia Upkins

Dacia has taught all core elementary subjects for 14 years with a Master's degree in Urban Teacher Leadership.

In this lesson, you will discover how big rocks turn into small rocks through a process called weathering. You will be able to define weathering and name the different types.

What is Weathering?

Did you know that the Grand Canyon used to be just one big piece of layered rock? Over millions of years, water from the Colorado River has been breaking off pieces from that rock and carrying them away. As this continues, the canyon gets deeper and wider. The process of wearing away or breaking down larger pieces of rock into smaller pieces is called weathering.

The Grand Canyon was created through processes including weathering.
Grand Canyon

Types of Weathering

There are several types of weathering that can cause rocks to break down. They include mechanical weathering, chemical weathering, and organic weathering. Let's take a closer look.

Mechanical Weathering

If you've ever frozen a bottle of water, you probably noticed that the bottle expanded after the water froze. A similar thing happens in nature when water gets between the little cracks in big rocks and cold temperatures cause it to freeze. When this happens over and over again, those cracks get larger and larger until they eventually cause pieces of the rock to break off. This is an example of mechanical weathering, which is the type of weathering that physically breaks down rock.

Water can freeze between the cracks in rocks, causing the cracks to widen and the rocks to break.
cracks in rock

Chemical Weathering

Keeping a bike outside all the time can cause a very annoying problem. If it rains on the bike a lot, it will rust. This happens when the oxygen in the rain water mixes with the metal called iron in the bike and creates a new reddish-brown substance that makes the bike look old.

Rain can also cause many types of rocks that contain iron to rust and get soft. Over time, these soft rocks can easily break into pieces. This process called oxidation is a type of chemical weathering. Chemical weathering involves breaking down rocks though some sort of chemical reaction.

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