1B. Rock Cycle of the Front Range


Tasks to be completed:

  1. Watch “What Can Rocks Tell Us?”
  2. Draw the rock cycle (00:00:17 of video)
  3. Draw the Front Range cycle as you complete the video
  4. Identify the rocks in your bin as you follow along with the video
  5. Complete the discussion prompt at the end of this page


  • Two blank sheets of copy paper (you may also use one sheet and draw on both sides)
  • Writing Utensil
  • Coloring Utensils (recommended)
  • Rock Identification Chart
  • Hand Lenses




  • Batholith – a large mass of intrusive igneous rock that forms from cooled magma deep in the Earth’s crust.
  • Bedding – layering that occurs in sedimentary rocks.
  • Extrusive Rock – rock formed on the surface of the Earth from lava (magma that has emerged from underground).
  • Foliation – repetitive layering in metamorphic rocks.
  • Igneous Rock – formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava.
  • Intrusive Rock – rock formed by magma which cools below the surface. Examples: plutons, batholiths, dikes, sills, etc.
  • Metamorphic Rock – a pre-existing rock subjected to high heat and pressure causing physical and/or chemical changes.
  • Sedimentary Rock – formed by the accumulation or deposition of small particles and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth’s surface.

Referenced Documents:

Discussion Prompt:

There are a variety of ways we can draw the rock cycle.  We could draw the main elements of the cycle, or outline the rocks for each of those elements, or draw the rock cycle of a specific location.

Ray asked you to draw the rock cycle at the beginning of his presentation.  Briefly describe your diagram and reflect on the differences or similarities of your drawing to Ray’s drawing.

If you have any questions, please list them in the comments below.  Feel free to submit any additional thoughts you have as well.

wellwatchadmin1B Rock Cycle of the Front Range


Join the conversation
  • Colette Hunt - June 21, 2020

    My rock cycle at the begging was definitely a broad overview of the rock cycle. I had the three types of rocks, a general how each one formed and a few arrows to show some relationships between them. Some differences between mine and Ray’s was detail. Mine was very general and Ray’s was much more specific with rock types and names and specific places. His also went into much more detail in terms of igneous rocks and formation of them. I kept mine pretty basic. One other difference I saw was there were more relationships shown within Ray’s cycle than mine, I did not show very many relationships. Some similarities between the two are they both have the three types of rocks and both talk about the formation of the three types of rocks (although in different ways).

    One thing I was thinking about in terms of cycles is the global perspective versus our perspective in an area where we live and one thing I have found (I teach 6th graders) is that often times when a cycle is drawn as a circle (like the water cycle) kids think that is the only way that something can go. I like the idea of teaching a cycle to your area and feel like kids won’t get so trapped into the idea that the cycle can only go one way.

  • Benita Wilson - July 6, 2020

    My drawing in the beginning of the video is definitely a “skeleton” of Ray’s drawing. It included a volcano, magma, and some of the processes in which the different types of rocks are formed (heat, pressure). I liked how Ray not only added much more detail and talked in depth about each type of rock and the examples but how he also related the rock cycle to the Front Range of Colorado. As he went through and mentioned different places like Gypsum, Glenwood Springs and Rocky Mountain National Park, I could picture what the landscape was like when I have been in those areas.

    I also think teaching the rock cycle in this way, with students pausing to look at the rocks and come to know where in the state they can be found is helpful for teaching the rock cycle in context. It also shows students that they can see this almost everywhere they go.

  • Marissa Jordening - July 7, 2020

    My original rock cycle drawing was a typical circle with sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks with the relationships between them labelled on the arrows, such as weathering/erosion and heat/pressure. Ray’s rock cycle had many more specific details, such as the rocks and the locations in Colorado. I feel that will be helpful to teach my students so they can put a context to the rock cycle, rather than just viewing it as an abstract circle. As mentioned before, the rock cycle circle sometimes makes students think that rocks can only move through the circle, but this rock cycle diagram helps students see the ways the rocks are related to the environment, not just to each other. By relating it to the Front Range, students may have a more practical application for this learning.

  • Kiera Mekelburg - July 7, 2020

    My original rock cycle is very simple compared to the completed rock cycle that Ray composed. I used my background knowledge from when I was in grade school to create my drawing, but I can see how much the visual representation that Ray created would help my students to understand more than just the 3 types of rocks and how they change from one to the other. I liked how different both of our rock cycles were, but yet they are both titled rock cycles. I think this helps to show how vague or specific you can be to address your students’ needs in teaching of the rock cycle. I also believe that seeing the different rocks under each phase in the rock cycle helped to show there is more than just one path for a rock as it makes its way through the cycle.

  • Abigail Seen - July 17, 2020

    My Rock Cycle is very simple compared to Ray’s rock cycle. I drew three different rocks representing the three groups of rocks I’ve known. I drew several arrows indicating the relationships between the three rocks. Ray’s Rock Cycle is definitely more detailed and shows the sequence of how rocks move. It is very interesting to realize that rocks tell a story and show their history of travels. Cutting through a rock can also define its journey whether the water picked it up and it fell somewhere where more physical changes can happen. Ray’s rock cycle defines these wild stories and all the process. Knowing the process is more important than just knowing the name, which can be beneficial to students’ learning.

  • Ambrette Gilkey - September 16, 2020

    My diagram of the rock cycle showed the overall simple idea of the 3 types of rocks and arrows representing how they can go through the cycle. I labeled some of the arrows, representing actions, with weathering/ erosion, heat/pressure, and melting. Drawing the front range rock cycle in the lesson and comparing my first drawing to the new helps me to recognize where I have better understanding (still minimal) of sedimentary rocks and the process of weathering and erosion.
    Going through the process with the video and pausing as I added to my drawing was very useful. Using the different colors, action arrows/lines, shapes, helped me to understand and describe in symbols the rock cycle. Doing this exercise with students would be very helpful. I think the action of them writing/drawing is critical in the learning process and for the purpose to go back and reference. Using the actual rock samples as reference while drawing the diagram helped my understanding of creating a story I can hopefully remember and reference. Realizing the story a rock has to tell as opposed to simply identifying its characteristics should be prioritized in learning, and that was helpful to hear Ray emphasize.
    Telling the story through the front range, location I/we can relate to, was helpful in the diagram to relate to prior understanding and where I have seen formations and locations.
    The ideas of Geologic Time and the story that a mineral or rock have to tell inspire me.

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