What would happen if our houses were made of chalk? Rocks and Soils with Y3's

There was less story from Carmel today, and more of an opportunity for the children to be IN the story as trainee geologists. This afternoon, the Y3s got busy with rocks, using materials - kindly provided by Sheffield Museums. 

Their task was to identify which of the 3 rocks in their tray was sedimentary, which metamorphic and which igneous.  They dropped water from pipettes to see which of the samples were porous.  They scratched the surface of each rock type with coins, iron nails and quartz.  They investigated which of the samples contained crystals, and which was shiny or dull, smooth, or rough. 

We all wore goggles whilst Carmel used the hammer to bash the three rock types and see which ones broke under force.

Whilst chatting with Watercliffe’s trainee geologists, we asked which of the three rocks would build the best houses.  My group agreed that because water runs off shiny slate, it might be good for a roof.  And we noticed that chalk sucked up water like dry sand on a beach, so that wouldn’t be useful for building houses. 

I shared how chalk was used on blackboards in the classroom when I was their age (and got some very strange looks…) We all got distracted by the sparkles in the granite – how magical our cities would look if houses were built out of stones full of crystals! 

We spent time remembering that porous rocks like white chalk are sedimentary; that the grey, shiny slate had once been soft like chalk but had been changed under pressure to become metamorphic; and that those sparkly crystals in the granite had been formed by the heat from molten lava.  No wonder they look magic!

Carmel the Geologist explains to the children how sedimentary rock becomes metamorphic rock when put under pressure.

This is the fifth blog in a series written by Sophie Hunter about the work done in Watercliffe Meadow Primary School in Shirecliffe.

Further information

Carmel Page is a fantastic Storyteller, Community Artist and Creative Mentor. Read all about her work and get in touch here.


This work is part of 'Culture on the Doorstep - Sheffield Curriculum Adventures.' Read all about it.

Across South Yorkshire, 4 Local Cultural Partnerships are exploring how place-based learning, within the context of a 15-minute neighbourhood, can build the cultural capital of children and young people. Create Sheffield, Evoke Kirklees, Leeds CEP and Spark Wakefield are running 4 simultaneous pilot programmes in our communities from September 2022 - December 2023. These initiatives are supported by IVE, the ACE Bridge organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber. In Sheffield, the pilot is also supported by Sheffield Museums and Sheffield Hallam University.