Rocks and Soils - Young Earth Investigators


The Year 3 science topic ‘Rocks’ can be quite dry if learning is limited to the classroom. So, when Green Meadow Primary School in Birmingham asked Triskelion to run a Rocks and Soils day for 60 Year 3 pupils, we were determined to make it a day to remember.

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Rocks and Soils - a day at Green Meadow Primary School

To bring the subject to life, we ran the whole event outside in the school grounds, made it very hands-on and topped it all with a layer of fun.

Our aim was to inspire the pupils’ curiosity about the ground beneath their feet and to encourage the youngsters to find out what rocks and soils can tell them through practical investigation.

With the event-based firmly on the Year 3 science curriculum, we also brought in aspects of geography, history, art and design, design and technology and English to ensure the pupils got the most from their day.  By the end of the event, we wanted them to:

  • know that rocks, fossils and gemstones can be identified and grouped according to their appearance and properties
  • understand that there are different types of material beneath their feet; how soil is formed and what some soils can be used for; why Stone Age people chose particular types of rock to make tools; and how fossils are formed
  • be able to look carefully at different types of rock and describe their properties; make a model of soil layers; find and identify different types of fossils and explain what these can tell us about plants and animals that lived in the past; find and identify some precious metals and gemstones.
    As with all our curriculum events, we aimed to add a ‘wow factor’ to our Rocks and Soils day by including activities, objects and tools that wouldn’t usually be available in the classroom. With this in mind, we organised the day into four themed sessions, with the pupils working together in small groups:
  • Rocks: the pupils inspected different types of rock, considered their properties and potential uses and handled tools similar to those used in the Stone Age
  • Soils: it was time to get creative as the pupils made and decorated clay pots, using natural objects as tools, and then went on to make colourful soil ‘cocktails’, building up their creations with different layers, grades and colours of materials
  • Fossils: the pupils became fossil detectives as they looked for real fossils buried in trays of gravel and identified their finds using charts
  • Gemstones and precious metals: this session literally added sparkle to the day as the pupils tried their hand at gold and gemstone panning (in a paddling pool!), again identifying their finds using charts. They were very happy to receive their own piece of treasure as a reward for their efforts!.

Mission accomplished

    There was plenty of fun throughout the day and the pupils clearly enjoyed themselves as they expanded their knowledge, developed their teamwork skills and expressed themselves creatively. The plenaries at the end of each session showed that the learning objectives had been met, with the children sharing the facts that they had learnt and some interesting new vocabulary - ‘paleontologist’ and ‘permineralisation’ being two popular new words! The teachers were pleased that the sessions had covered the curriculum in a way that engaged and excited the pupils and immersed them in the topic of ‘rocks’, ready for further classroom learning.


“It was awesome! We got to touch real fossils!”

Ochae-Mae, Year 3 pupil


“Probably my favourite day ever in Year 3!”

Year 3 teacher,



Click to view the full size image.

Gallery - Rocks and Soils day

  • Rocks soils Fossils Explore
  • Rocks soils Fossils
  • Rocks soils Gold Panning
  • Rocks soils Identify
  • Rocks soils Primary Curriculum
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