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Title: Sedimentary Rock Activities
Time: 1 class period
KERA Goals: 2.3


Students will understand that most sedimentary rocks such as coal are formed under the water and in swamps, lakes, seas, and oceans. 


Sedimentary rocks are composed of different layers. These layers can be pebbles, sand, silt, or fossil fragments. Your students will understand the characteristics of sedimentary layers.

  • glass jars with lids
  • water
  • rocks
  • pebbles
  • sand
  • soil

This activity can be done individually, in small groups or as a demonstration by the teacher for the class.

  1. Have students collect rocks, pebbles, sand, and soil at school or home.

  2. Fill a jar about one-third full with the rocks, pebbles, sand, and soil. Add water and shake jar carefully.

  3. Have students write a paragraph/statement on what they predict will happen and why.

  4. Let the jar stand undisturbed. Materials will settle into layers with the coarser, heavier material at the bottom and the finer, lighter layers at the top.

  5. Tell the students that these sedimentary layers usually form in lake beds and near running water. After a long period of time, they will turn to rock.

  6. Have students measure and graph the various sizes of the layers.

  7. Students will enjoy re-shaking the jar and watching the materials resettle.

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Provided by The Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.