Mountain Building (6-12)
Lesson 4: What Are You Made Of? The Rock Composition & Rock Cycle

Activity 2

Rock Cycle Journey

Materials / Preparation

  • Rock Cycle Journey Paper Dice. Print the eleven paper dice onto card stock; cut them out and tape together.
  • Transparent cellophane tape to build the dice.
  • Rock Cycle Journey Station placards. Print and fold the eleven station placards to form tent cards.
  • Copy 4 to 8 worksheets of the Rock Cycle Journey Data Table (page 21 from the Mountain Building Journal).
  • Set up eleven stations in the classroom - one for each die and matching placard. Each placard has the number of the station and the name of the stage or rock type printed so the station can be located easily.
  • If you have rock samples, place a corresponding sample of each rock type at the appropriate stations.


Students work individually.

Teacher tips

Read through the Rock Cycle Journey Instructions (page 19 in the Mountain Building Journal) before beginning the activity. Note page 20 of the Journal is an example for students on how to complete the worksheets.

Some students may become frustrated if they get stuck in one spot on the cycle for several rolls of the dice. Reassure the students that this is not uncommon and is in fact what happens in nature.


Part I: Rock Cycle Game
  1. Explain to the students that they are going to play a game to learn more about rocks and what happens to them.
  2. Review with the students the rules in the instructions before starting the game (page 19 of the Mountain Building Journal).
    a. Orient the students to the activity by instructing them to think of themselves as a grain of sediment or a piece of rock moving through a rock cycle.
    b. Go through the sample data table on page 20 in the Journal.
    c. Hand out several copies of the Rock Cycle Journey Data Table for each student to complete during the activity.
    d. Students begin at any station; it does not matter which station is their starting point. Spread the students out so that each station has approximately the same number of students to begin with.
    e. Remind students not to toss the dice around too vigorously as they will be damaged.
    f. Remind the students to record where they are (what station number), what they are (station name), and what happened to them for each roll of the die. This is critical information for reconstructing their journey.
  3. Students begin by taking turns rolling the die at their station and following the directions to either 'go to' another station or 'stay put.' They must record each roll of the die and its outcome on their data table. Every roll of the die must be counted – even if they end up rolling it multiple times.
    a. Each step in the rock cycle can take as little as 200,000 years or as much as several million years. For this game, count each roll of the die as 200,000 years it still allows plenty of time to 'pass,' giving the students a sense of the huge amount of time (in human terms) it takes for these changes to occur. Students multiply the number of tosses by 200,000 to get the number of years spent in the rock cycle (or any part of it).
    b. Allow about 20 minutes or so to play this game. This generally provides everyone with enough time to visit a number of stations and to develop a good sense of how material moves through the rock cycle.
  4. Once the students have completed their rock cycle, they will need to summarize their trip using the Data Summary page 22 in their Mountain Building Journals.
  5. Review and Reflection: Have students answer the questions on page 23 in their Journals.
Part II: Cartoons

Students will use pages 24 & 25 of the Mountain Building Journal. After their journey is complete, students create a cartoon of how their adventures in the rock cycle occurred. Points are given for use of correct terms. Page 24 in the Journal provides a space for students to write the script for the cartoon. The cartoon page is divided into 12 boxes—room for 12 drawings.


Evaluate the students’ journey logs, scripts, cartoons and review and reflection.


Students may need to finish their cartoons as homework.


Have students create a story or a travel brochure about the rock cycle.

Resources used

Rock Cycle Journey Paper Dice

Rock Cycle Journey Stations

Mountain Building Journal

Mountain Building Journal: Teacher's Guide