Rock & Mineral Bingo

Kate Pound
Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Dept., St. Cloud State University
Author Profile

Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2013 | Reviewed: May 10, 2019
This is a rock and mineral 'Bingo' that is based on knowledge and skill (not luck). It was designed as an entertaining and interactive means of developing and improving student rock and mineral identification skills
Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



1. College-level: Geology for Secondary Teachers (i.e. a Geology course for pre-service 8-12th grade teachers)
2. College-level: Geology for Elementary-school pre-service teachers
3. College-level: Review activity for Geology majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

Mineral and rock identification techniques and terms (although the level to which these are mastered can depend on the questions used). The exercise is designed to help students understand and use techniques, rather than just learn names.
The essential knowledge includes:
Minerals - luster, cleavage, fracture, crystal form,formulas, density, mineral names
Rocks - classification, names

How the activity is situated in the course:

It forms a 'capstone' to the rock and mineral identification portion of the class, and is done to help students review the material and make connections. They started by examining Igneous rocks, then moved to minerals, and then turned to sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. I use it randomly with more advanced students.

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

Science as Inquiry Standards 5-8, 9-12
Content Standards in Physical Science and Earth & Space Science (5-8 & 9-12)


Content/concepts goals for this activity:

Become (more?) adept at 'seeing' rock and mineral properties
Become more comfortable with rock and mineral nomenclature

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

Linking classifications and rock and mineral properties to samples in front of them; making connections between rock and mineral properties and local geology

Other skills goals for this activity:

Conduction rock and mineral identification 'tests'

Description of the activity/assignment

A rock and mineral "Bingo" that is based on knowledge and identification skills (not luck) was developed to help teachers and introductory as well as more advanced-level students develop and improve rock and mineral identification skills. The game was initially designed to use a rock and mineral kit provided to all students in Lab Classes, but could be adapted for any suite of samples. The rock and mineral kits include 13 mineral samples (olivine, pyroxene, amphibole, biotite, muscovite, potassium feldspar, plagioclase, quartz, galena, gypsum, hematite, pyrite, calcite), 7 igneous rock samples (rhyolite, granite, andesite, diorite, basalt, gabbro, peridotite), 3 sedimentary rock samples (sandstone, shale, limestone), and 5 metamorphic rock samples (slate, mica schist, gneiss, marble, quartzite). The kit also includes a small magnifying glass, a streak plate and a tempered steel nail.

The Bingo cards are composed of 9 squares ("questions") each. A total of 8 groups of questions have been developed to encompass introductory through more advanced levels. The question sets developed so far are: (a) General distinction between rocks and minerals; (b) Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks; (c) Mineral luster; (d) Mineral fracture and cleavage; (e) Mineral crystal form; (f) Mineral chemistry; (g) General mineralogy; (h) Geologic Context.

Each square on the card is numbered (1-9). The same card is used for each group of questions. The questions are written on a separate set of small question cards that are color-coded (according to question set) and numbered. These cards are pulled out of the 'bag' by the caller, and a copy of the question is posted for all to see. The players need to choose the sample from their collection that best fits the question or description given by the caller. The questions are set up so that some samples fit more than one answer, which requires the students to review their choices. The first person or group to win presents their board and samples for the class to examine.

This exercise could be adapted for any collection and any level of learning, as well as for any particular collection or suite of samples. Soils and local rock sequences could also be incorporated.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Whether they are able to match the samples to the questions. I always make the whole class evaluate the winning board and/or complete their groups board (if they didn't 'win')

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

North Central GSA Poster: Panel 1 (Acrobat (PDF) 5.1MB Aug23 05), Panel 2 (Acrobat (PDF) 10.4MB Aug23 05), Panel 3 (Acrobat (PDF) 5.8MB Aug23 05)