K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


LEARN NC is no longer supported by the UNC School of Education and has been permanently archived. On February 1st, 2018, you will only be able to access these resources through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. We recommend that you print or download resources you may need before February 1st, 2018, after which, you will have to follow these instructions in order to access those resources.

Learn more

Related pages

Related topics


Please read our disclaimer for lesson plans.


The text of this page is copyright ©2008. See terms of use. Images and other media may be licensed separately; see captions for more information and read the fine print.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Create self-devised rules to classify mineral samples.
  • Apply the scientific characteristics of minerals (hardness, luster, color, streak, and magnetism) to compare and contrast specific minerals.
  • Compile the characteristics of the selected minerals into a chart.
  • Transfer information from the chart into a bar or line graph.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2–3 days


  • examples of five minerals (specifically malachite, pyrite, gold, topaz, and garnet)
  • five or more magnifying glasses
  • graph paper for each student
  • paper and pencil

Technology resources

Computer with internet access connected to a TV (probably with an Averkey) for easy student viewing or a computer lab with a computer for each student.


In previous lessons, discuss the definitions of a rock and mineral. Discuss uses of rocks and minerals in daily life and their relevance to our survival. The teacher should have a clear understanding of the use of the internet as an instructional tool.


Day 1

  1. Review the definition of a rock and a mineral. Do a circle map describing the features of rocks and minerals.
  2. Purpose: today we are going to learn some ways minerals are different.
  3. Display the mineral samples and allow the class to examine them.
  4. Place students into groups of 3–4 students. Put one specimen in each group and instruct the students to study their samples with a magnifying glass and the naked eye. Assign the students to complete a class bubble map describing their specimen.
  5. After 8–12 minutes, regroup the class and compile their data into a class bubble map.
  6. Using this information, assist students with devising rules to group the ten mineral specimens.
  7. Apply the rules to the specimens and determine which specimens fall under each rule.
  8. Discuss why it is necessary to devise rules and how scientists use rules to help differentiate between minerals.
  9. Preview the next day’s lesson by discussing the following vocabulary terms: hardness, luster, color, streak, and magnetism.

Day 2

  1. Review the activity from the previous lesson by discussing the student devised rules the class created.
  2. Purpose: today we are going to learn the ways scientists compare and contrast different minerals.
  3. Present the vocabulary terms and definitions: hardness, luster, color, streak, and magnetism.
  4. Discuss with the students the relevance of these terms in relation to minerals.
  5. Display images from the Mineral Gallery and/or actual specimens of the following minerals to study their attributes: malachite, diamond, topaz, gold, and garnet.
  6. Create a class chart containing the five minerals and each trait. Using the website, student textbooks, and observations complete the chart.
  7. Discuss the information in the chart and the questions. Determine how to use the information effectively in a bar graph and line graph (specifically hardness).
  8. Split the class into two groups and assign one group to create a bar graph and the other group to create a line graph. Review the parts to a graph (title, key, labels, clear writing). Assist students as needed.
  9. Allow the groups to share their completed work. Discuss how the graphs are similar and different.
  10. Review hardness, luster, color, streak, and magnetism and the importance of their traits for classifying minerals.


An assessment may be done from the student class work. Also, an example of one of the graphs may be included in the unit assessment. Attached to the lesson is an example of a bar and line graph with some questions that could be used in the unit assessment or as a quiz grade.

Supplemental information


  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • Measurement & Data
          • 4.MD.4Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots. For example, from a line plot find and interpret...

    • North Carolina Essential Standards
      • Science (2010)
        • 4.P.2 Understand the composition and properties of matter before and after they undergo a change or interaction. 4.P.2.1 Compare the physical properties of samples of matter: (strength, hardness, flexibility, ability to conduct heat, ability to conduct electricity,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and use graphs, probability, and data analysis.
    • Objective 4.01: Collect, organize, analyze, and display data (including line graphs and bar graphs) to solve problems.

Science (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of the composition and uses of rocks and minerals.
    • Objective 2.02: Recognize that minerals have a definite chemical composition and structure, resulting in specific physical properties including:
      • Hardness.
      • Streak color.
      • Luster.
      • Magnetism.
    • Objective 2.06: Classify rocks and rock-forming minerals using student-made rules.