5 Simple Tips on Rock Identification For Kids

rock identification

Photo via Flickr.

Rock identification can be difficult for both those new to it and even for experts.  Here are some general tips to help kids and parents identify rocks in the Rocky Mountains.

I have always loved rocks and now my son loves to find cool looking rocks.  Unfortunately, I was never very good at identifying the different kinds of rocks.  Rock identification can be hard to do.  Luckily, with a little practice and knowing what to look for you will have a head start to identifying some of the common rocks you find.

rocks sandstone close up5 Simple Tips To Get You Started At Rock Identification

These are some things to help you begin learning how to identify rocks.  Just realize that rock identification is not as easy and straight forward as identifying different mammals.  Sometimes you may be able to narrow down that you are looking at an igneous rock, but not be able to figure out exactly what kind it is.

Use these tips on rock identification as a starting point.   Try to learn one new kind of rock each time you head out into nature.

1. Color

Look at the color of the rock.  What color or colors do you see?

2. Grain Size

How big are the individual grains or minerals that make up the rock?  Are they tiny (the size of the tip of a pencil) or are they as large as a dime, penny or quarter?

rock identification

Sandstone is sandy when you feel or rub it. Photo via Flickr.

3. Texture

What does the rock feel like?  When you rub it does it feel sandy or does it feel hard and gritty?

4. What Is It Made Of?

Can you see what minerals it is made of?  Do you see any fossils or other small rocks inside of it?

rock identification

Look at how the minerals in this rock are evenly distributed throughout like a jigsaw puzzle. Photo via Flickr.

5. Do You See A Pattern In The Rock?

There are three main kinds of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic).  Each of these three kinds of rocks has a general pattern or look to it.  Look at the overall pattern or lack of pattern in the rock to help give you a general idea of which of the three kinds of rock it may be.

No pattern – sedimentary.

Nice, uniform pattern to the rock that almost looks like a jigsaw puzzle – igneous rock.

If the rock looks to have layers in it or bands – metamorphic rock.