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Lesson plans

A collection of lesson plans and links for Earth science classroom activities.

Lesson Plans

Classroom VolcanoHow to make a Classroom Volcano

This simple experiment gives an idea of what a volcano can look like when it erupts, giving children or inquisitive adults a close up view of a ‘lava flow’ as it happens. 

GSL linkRead the lesson plan
Download the Classroom Volcano lesson plan

Chocolate Rock CycleThe Chocolate Rock Cycle

Chocolate has the ability to be ground into small particles, heated, cooled and compressed just like rocks. Create your own sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous chocolate.

GSL linkRead the lesson plan
Download the lesson plan as a pdf

Silurian CupcakesSilurian Death Assemblage Cupcakes Recipe

By our resident geobaker, Catherine Kenny

Download the Silurian Death Assemblage Cupcakes recipe

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""Igneous rocks

A small group activity using photographs of igneous rocks used for ornamental purposes. This activity is intended for pupils to deepen their understanding of igneous rocks.

Building Stones - Igneous rocks

mealtime.jpgOh no, not rocks for dinner again! (KS2/3)

Lesson plan on how rocks are used for all our meals from crockery to cutlery, and how minerals are present in many of the things we eat and drink.

""Plate Tectonics

Resources from a fantastic lecture by Pete Loader in Earth Science Week 2013 on the reality of Plate Tectonics for the people of Christchurch, New Zealand. 

Plate Tectonics Powerpoint
Plate Tectonics Handout

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This is a very popular, simple geological map of the British Isles which is customisable. 

The BGS Make-a-Map shows the main rock units with accompanying timecharts and it is possible to create printable maps that highlight specific rock units in colour, or outline maps showing the boundaries of the main rock units to be coloured in by students.

""iGeology App – Britain’s Rocks in your Pocket!

Ok, well not so much of a lesson plan, but it’s a great bit of technology for students and teachers!  A free App that lets you take a geological map of Britain with you wherever you go to help you learn about the rocks beneath your feet. Add this to you phone's GPS, you'll know exactly where you are.

The maps include rock descriptions, choice of topographic base map plus William Smith's historic 1815 geological map and other features.

""Geological Time

Outline of lesson plan:

Part 1. The Age of the Earth
Practical: Saltiness of the Ocean
Part 2. The History of the Earth
Practical: Dawn of a New Age
Part 3. Radiometric dating

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""Relative dating

This lesson demonstrates cross-cutting relationships and the age of rocks. It also highlights the remarkable role James Hutton played in changing ideas about the age of the Earth - he even influenced Charles Darwin!

The lesson is appropriate for ages from KS3 (at a higher level) to A-level. Students don't need to have studied any geology previously.

Credit: Joanie Marion
Head of Chemistry and Earth Science
Edinburgh Steiner School

Relative dating lesson plan
Fossil pictures for practical

""Forensic geology

Suitable for all ages, from 10 year olds to adults. Solve the crime using a newspaper report, evidence and interviews. Which of our four suspects is guilty?

Credit: Dr. Maggie E. Williams
Geology & Geophysics
School of Environmental Sciences, Herdman Building, 4 Brownlow Street
University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, U.K.
Tel: (0151) 794 5190; Fax: (0151) 794 5196

contents list
newspaper report
sand samples
suspect samples

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""Diagnostic mineral assessment

This is a simple way to assess a student’s ability to identify minerals; and is good for explaining the concept of a diagnostic test.

Students are given a list of possible diagnostic tests and minerals, and are asked to match appropriate tests to the minerals, plan the test and predict the outcome.

Credit: Pete Loader
St Bede’s College, Manchester.

Diagnostic Mineral Assessment Intro
Diagnostic Mineral Assessment - Student Sheet
Diagnostic Mineral Assessment - Grid

""What grains can tell us

Suitable for A level students, this lecture plan includes a series of questions and exercises, using slides of depositional environments.

Credit: Maggie Williams
Chairman, Earth Science Teacher's Association

Environmental GeologyThe Anthropocene

Aimed at sixth form students, the Anthropocene resource pack presents a selection of evidence and asks pupils to decide for themselves if the Earth has entered the Anthropocene yet and if so, when? It can be used either as a group or individual exercise, and provides experience in developing analytical skills.

GSL linkFind out more


Lesson plans from Earth Learning Idea

Earth Learning Idea (ELI) publish Earth-related teaching ideas, designed to be practical resources for teachers and teacher-trainers. Every two weeks a new activity is posted on their blog, and their main site has a raft of historical lesson plans to suit a range of topics.

Each activity is designed to create student participation for maximum learning, with most activities requiring minimal cost and equipment.  They are fun, engaging and produce excellent learning outcomes! 

A new plan is posted every two weeks, so there's plenty to choose from - if you've tried any out, we'd love to hear how it went!

Rock Sweet Properties

Ask children to describe the properties of different sweets in a labelled diagram focusing on colour, appearance, shininess, weight, texture. Having done this with sweets do the same activity with rocks and use the rock identification key to match rocks to the correct name. 

Curriculum points: compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties.

Rock Sweet Properties PDF

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New Factsheet: Fossils


Read our latest factsheet for primary school students.

Terrific Scientific


An exciting new BBC primary science initiative.

Fun Kids Radio: Geological Time

Fun Kids Radio

Travel back in time with Fun Kids radio episodes and online resources

Related Links

external linkLesson Plans at

Christy Pratt has compiled a number lesson plans on a variety of topics that can be incorporated into the Earth science classroom. These can be adapted for primary school, secondary school and university students.