How Do Rocks Move?

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12444

Have you ever seen a rock move? They don't seem very active, do they? How hard would it be for you to move a huge boulder? Find out how the earth moves rocks without hands!


Earth Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • If you were planning to move to a new house, how would you get everything you own there?

Moving all your belongings can be challenging and overwhelming. Packing smaller boxes can help!

Rocks move similarly. Smaller rocks move more quickly than larger rocks because they are lighter!


Erosion is the process of rocks moving from one place to another. Erosion occurs all over the planet, moving rocks to new locations.


Many factors contribute to erosion of rocks and soil, including water, wind, glaciers, and gravity. Each of these has a unique pattern of movement.

Water is one of the most common causes of erosion because it is powerful. Water moves material through rainfall, waves, floods, and rivers.

When rain falls on the surface, it picks up rocks and pushes them to new places. Waves erode the shoreline, often breaking off large pieces of the coastline.

coastal cliff

Floods and rivers move water to push rocks to a new location by force.

aerial view of flood

  • Have you ever gotten windburn?

Wind can be another powerful force in moving materials from one place to another. Wind can pick up small pieces of rocks and carry them away.

wind storm

Glaciers are moving bodies of ice that can cut deep into the earth's surface. This loosens rocks and soil and pushes them to new places.


Gravity is a force that pulls material towards the earth's surface. So, when loose rocks are found at a higher elevation, they can move down under the influence of gravity.

Think about a cliff — when a small rock loosens, the stone falls to the bottom. That is erosion!


Erosion occurs worldwide through water, wind, glaciers, and gravity. Each force acts on rocks to move them from one place to another.

Rocks can be large enough to be moved by glaciers and small enough to be picked up by the wind. Water carries the most matter because it is one of the most powerful forces of erosion.

Respond to the following question on a sheet of paper.

  • How do natural processes on the earth move rock?

Move on to the Got It? section, where you will review types of erosion.

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