Hands On Activities for the Rock Cycle [Using Starburst]

Are you bored with the Rock Cycle because you have no hands on activities to help the students understand the process? Well- luckily for you, I have an amazing science project that sticks with the kids…literally and figuratively!

I really wanted a way for the rock cycle to stick into mu student’s brain. I went to Target and got 2 bags of starburst. Let me give this advice- get the regular starburst. I bought the red faves and unfortunately it was too similar in color. It worked- but it’s just a little easier for you.

Give each student 3 different colored starburst. This will be really easy for the students to decipher the layers.

Unwrap the starburst

Place the starburst on a hard object like a desk. Using pressure, push really hard on the starburst so it is practically flattened.

I like to show the kids that they can see my palm prints in the starburst still. Then generate questions to ask why?
Next compare the two different starburst which in this case is the “sediments.”

Then I like to make an initial in the starburst. I used the letter W because it’s pretty wide and will be easier to identify later on. You can use your thumb nail to make the W or you can use a pencil to make the W.

Next using heat and pressure- you will flatten another starburst. (Color 2) How do you use heat in a classroom? Use deep breaths to blow on it and then press. Blow then press. Blow then press. Blow then press. You will want to do this a few times so that students can flatten it like the first one.

Place the starburst lightly on top. Do a gentle push so they “smush” together.

Do the same for the last starburst!

Now you have sedimentary formation. The starburst formed a layer of sedimentary rocks. The students are able to see a visual layer of sedimentary rocks in their very own hands!

Now- “accidentally” break the rock. It’s super simple- just pull off a corner. Then have all of the students pull off a corner. You can have all of the students combine their “corners” and join together. This will become a new type of rock.

You can easily take the sediment and just leave it out or combine with others. Just make sure you break it because that will allow you to teach how sediments can be created. Sometimes I like to get really dramatic and say OH NO TIDAL WAVE! And make the sound and break it. It is quite fun!

Ask the students- is this the same as it was? Will I be able to get it back into the original shape? Not unless I worked at Starburst’s factory. Then I lead them back to ask- what about rocks. Will they be able to get back to the original rock that they started from? Why not? Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition are some key words you should be looking for on that one.

Ask the students if they will now be able to get it back into the shape. Now with some heat and pressure I was able to make it into a metamorphic rock. I do allow the students to take apart the starburst so they can find their letter that they made on the first layer.

Can you see it? Look for places that are dented in. If we something sticking out like maybe a paper clip- we would be able to show the students that the rocks formed around the paperclip. This works just as well because the students can see that the letter is still there. They can see that the letter may have been stretched (which normally doesn’t happen to rocks) but in this particular instance it did stretch. It really is a great thing for students to recognize about fossils.

I hope this gave you ideas for you to use in your science classroom! It really is a great lesson. I did not get into igneous rock – I couldn’t find a volcano in Florida. Just kidding! This was really for sedimentary rock to metamorphic rock while understanding how fossils can me made and fossilized.

Hugs & High-Fives,


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