Goal(s): This lesson will teach students how to test and identify minerals according to their physical properties.
Grade level(s): 4-5
Students will be able to identify a mineral according to its physical characteristics.
Students will be able to test a mineral for specific characteristics (color, luster, streak, texture, breakage).
Students will be able to explain how the physical characteristics of a mineral can be tested.
Is your sample a mineral?
Did it pass every test?
Time Allotment: 1 class period
4 minerals per pair of students
magnifying glass (1 per student)
1 Minerals Test Worksheet (per student)
several copies of A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough
Vocabulary: characteristics, texture, luster, streak, cleavage, sample
Anticipatory Set: Students will be told the objective. Students will be seated with their science buddy. Each pair of students will be given a rock and a mineral and asked if they have anything in common. Some students may be able to identify that one is a mineral. Students will then be asked to recall that most rocks contain two or more minerals, but to identify a mineral, one needs to look for many things. Students will be asked all the ways that they know of to identify, sort, or organize rocks. Answers will be listed on a piece of large chart paper.
Direct Instruction/Guided Practice: Students will be told that there are five characteristics to look for in order to identify a mineral– color, streak, fracture/cleavage, texture, and luster. Vocabulary paired with visuals will be introduced. Students will be told to choose 1 sample from their pile to test. Magnifying glasses will be handed out and handling instructions will be given. As a class and with the “Mineral Test” worksheet as a guide, students will be lead through an examination of their samples to identify which one is a mineral.
Independent Practice: Using the other sample, instruct students to follow the same procedure to test for mineral identification. Students should record their findings on the “Mineral Test” worksheet. Once completed, provide the opportunity for students to find the name of their mineral in A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough.
Closure: Gather students for whole group discussion. The focusing questions will lead the class discussion. The students will be asked to share their findings and if they think their rocks are really minerals. Students will then be told that there is a sixth way to test a mineral through a test of its hardness. Students will be asked how they think we can determine which of their rocks is the hardest. Answers will be written on the chart paper. Students will be told that in tomorrow’s lesson, they will learn about the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness and they will be able to determine which of their minerals are the hardest.
Students will be assessed according to their ability to:
1. Identify a mineral according to its physical characteristics.
2. To test a mineral for specific characteristics (color, luster, streak, texture, breakage).
3. To explain how the physical characteristics of a mineral can be tested.
Accommodations: The “Minerals Test” worksheet provides written instruction on how to test for each physical characteristic. Alternative assessments to the completion of the worksheet may be given to students who would be better served with an adapted version or by explaining through a drawing or short verbal retelling.
Extension: The learning of mineral characteristics can be extended through the following literature connections:
A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough.
Experiments With Rocks and Minerals by Salvatore Tocci
Peterson First Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough