When selecting themes to explore with young kids I love to focus on items they encounter in their everyday lives. Rocks are everywhere, and most kids are likely to have collected a few from time to time. By exploring a preschool rock theme we can gather rocks from our natural environment and use them for so many great activities.
Here are some fabulous resources for planning your preschool rock theme activities.
Why It’s Fun
Rocks are like little treasures for young kids, and they are everywhere. Simply collecting rocks to prepare for your theme is loads of fun for kids. You can easily collect some for free and plan a full week (or more!) of learning activities. Plus you can learn a lot about different kinds of rocks, objects and structures made with rocks, and much more. And my favorite part is that long after your rock theme is over, kids will still be bringing up topics you discussed because as they continually see rocks in their natural environment they’ll be reminded of what you learned together.
When to Teach a Rock Theme
A rock theme can be taught any time of year if you live in an area where it doesn’t snow. However, I typically like to teach a rock theme in early spring when the temperature is mild and we’re spending longer stretches of time outdoors. It can be a great way to kick off a series of more traditional spring themes like insects, flowers, etc.
Teaching Tips & Major Concepts Kids Will Learn
If you’re planning a preschool rock theme there are so many possibilities for incorporating meaningful early learning skills.
These are just some of the concepts kids can learn about rocks:
- the names for different sizes of rocks (pebbles, rocks, boulders, etc)
- properties of different kinds of rocks (for preschool focus on textures, colors, etc)
- whether rocks sink or float
- which kinds of rocks will make markings on concrete
- where rocks are found on earth
- how different rocks are formed
- different objects that are made of stone
- different structures around the world that are made of stone
You can also use rocks as manipulatives for many learning activities to teach math and literacy concepts.
Items to Collect and Request in Advance
You don’t need a lot for this theme, but if you get parents, friends, and family involved you can enrich the experience kids have during your preschool rock theme.
Collect or ask people to help you collect:
- rocks from your natural area (you can also collect your own with kids, but by involving families you can get a wider array of varieties)
- rock collections (some families may have rock collection with gems and minerals they could bring in to show students)
- pamphlets, books, and photos about rocks (perhaps from family vacations)
You might even invite special guests (or go visit if you can) to come and share about fields and hobbies related to rocks. You could include:
- a geologist
- a rock climber (or someone from a local rock climbing place)
- a jewelry maker (to share how they use different stones and gems to make jewelry)
Printable Rock Theme Lesson Plans
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
This set includes active hands-on learning ideas and the following printables:
1) Rock Beginning Sound Sort Activity
2) Rock Concept of Word Sentence Strips
3) Rock Letter Matching Puzzles
4) Rock Number Cards
5) Dump Truck Rock Counting Mats for Numbers 1-10
6) Rock Spin and Add Game
7) Rock Story Sequencing Recording Sheet
Get Your Lesson Plans
Individual Rock Activity Ideas on Fantastic Fun and Learning
Here on Fantastic Fun and Learning we’ve shared the following ideas to go along with a preschool rock theme.
Create BIG art with this rock painting activity that kids LOVE.
Explore the senses and create your own “rock” band.
Make your own rocks with this science experiment. (See it in action in the video tutorial below or click the “Make your own rocks link for written details.)
Active little learners will enjoy breaking apart rocks to learn more about them.
More Activities from Creative Educators
These playful rock activities are fun for preschoolers and older kids too.
Informational YouTube Videos
Get a quick introduction to the different kinds of rocks.
My kids particularly liked the real photographs and quiz style used in this video about the types of rocks and the rock cycle.
This video is a bit too advanced for preschoolers, but it might come in handy if you have a child who is particularly interested in learning more about rocks.
Learn the 3 types of rock with this song.
The content of this song is advanced for preschool, but you can’t really do a rock theme without singing at least one version of “We Will Rock You,” can you?!
Other Online Resources
Finger plays and action rhymes are a great addition to your preschool themes. Here are a few terrific options to go along with a rock theme.
CanTeach has some songs and rhymes about rocks that are perfect for preschool. We particularly enjoy singing the Little Pebbles counting song, and my kids get a kick out of the “Rock, Rock” (Knock, Knock) jokes.
If you’d like to supplement your hands-on learning with some online games you might try:
Help Sid the Science Kid sort rocks in this game from PBS Kids.
Favorite Rock Books
Affiliate links included.
We’ve included brief summaries of some of our favorite books for a rock theme in our rock books list.
Other Props and Teaching Tools
Reinforce learning with these hands-on materials and games to go along with your rock theme.
Create pet rocks. Then use your imaginations to write about them with this free printable pet rock writing.
Possible Field Trips or Adventures
To extend your rock theme you might:
- go on a nature walk to collect rocks
- observe a local construction site (from a safe distance) and discuss any rocks you saw being used for building
- visit a local natural history museum with rock collections
We have typically done our rock theme in early spring, and it leads into a series of themes exploring natural materials and living things. Below are some possible suggestions. Themes we have printable lesson plans for include links after them.
- Sand and Soil
- Worms and Mud-Lesson plans available for home preschool and preschool classrooms
- Insects-Lesson plans available for home preschool and preschool classrooms
- Flowers-Lesson plans available for home preschool and preschool classrooms