What Are Minerals?

Contributor: Roxann Penny. Lesson ID: 12767

Do you take vitamins and minerals? Yes, minerals are rocks, even though they're found in foods and medicines! Learn about minerals you wear and use and write with and on and on! Even make your own!


Earth Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

Which of these items are made with minerals?

  1. pencil
  2. sunscreen
  3. matches
  4. refrigerator


What exactly are minerals?

In this lesson, you will explore the properties of minerals found in rocks, and explore some ways in which these minerals are used.

Minerals are natural, nonliving substances that make up rocks. These substances give rocks their distinct characteristics, or qualities. For example, some minerals are brightly colored and have a shiny appearance, while others are cloudy and dark. Although there are over 4,000 different types of minerals, only thirty or so are commonly found within the Earth's crust. That means the remaining minerals are much harder to find. In order to identify and better understand the different types of minerals, scientists have created a list of properties for classifying, or grouping, minerals.

Take a look at the video clip below to learn how minerals are classified. As you view Identifying Minerals, listen to learn about one of the least-effective ways of identifying a mineral. The relevant clip ends at 7:09:

Image - Video


Once you have completed viewing the video presentation, review the properties of minerals using the following interactive:

Image - Video

What are minerals used for?

You may be surprised to learn that many of the things you use in your daily life are made up of one or more types of minerals. Take a look at some common household items that are composed of minerals:

Image - Video

Can you guess some other items that contain minerals? Share your guesses with your parent or teacher, then consider the following discussion questions. You may record your responses to the questions in a journal or notebook:

  1. Why is it important to learn about the different types of minerals?
  2. How are minerals and rocks connected?
  3. How do you think minerals are extracted or obtained from rocks?
  4. What are some benefits of mining minerals from the Earth?
  5. Some minerals have a higher value (there is greater demand for them) than others. Can you identify one mineral that has a high value? Can you identify one way in which this mineral is used?
  6. Why is color the least reliable method of identifying a mineral?

What interesting points did your discussion reveal? You may make a note of any questions or comments you would like to further research. Feel free to review any of the information presented in this section before moving on to Got It? segment of this lesson, where you will be able to test your knowledge about minerals. Finally, here is the correct answer to the question presented in the opening section:

Which of these items are made with minerals?

  1. pencil
  2. sunscreen
  3. matches
  4. refrigerator

Answer: All of them!

Now, move on down to the Got It? section to dig deeper into the world of minerals.

Image - Button Next