Weathering Explained

Easy Kids Science Facts on Weathering of Rock Image - Weathering Worksheet
Easy Kids Science Facts on Weathering of Rock Image

Let’s say you made a cake and left it outside. What would happen? Maybe it would dry up and crack in the hot sun. Or perhaps rain would wash it away. If it froze, it might crack too. This process would probably take just a few days.

Weathering Facts for Kids

  • Weathering breaks rocks down.
  • Water can freeze and crack rocks.
  • Tree roots can split rocks apart.
  • Acid rain wears away stone.
  • Sand blown by wind grinds surfaces.
  • Rivers slowly carve out valleys.
  • Sea waves erode cliffs.
  • Heat makes rocks expand and break.
  • Plants’ acids can dissolve rocks.
  • Weathering forms soil over time.


Weathering and erosion are intertwined natural processes that progressively sculpt our environment. Weathering, which involves the breaking down of rocks, soil, and minerals into smaller fragments, is triggered by various factors such as wind, water, ice, flora, and fauna.

Following the weathering process, erosion steps in to transport these fragmented materials from their original location to different places, primarily aided by wind, water, or ice.

Overextended durations, these concurrent processes of weathering and erosion contribute significantly to the transformation of the landscape, leading to the formation of diverse geographical features like mountains, valleys, and coastlines.

Rock cycle

The rock cycle is an unending course of action in which rocks are perpetually formed, altered, and obliterated. This cycle heavily relies on a key process known as weathering, the breakdown or dissolution of rocks through natural elements such as wind, water, ice, flora, and fauna. Weathering is primarily categorized into physical and chemical types.

The former involves the reduction of rocks into smaller fragments through physical factors like temperature flux, water, wind, and ice. Conversely, chemical weathering pertains to alterations in a rock’s composition induced by chemical reactions, usually involving water or atmospheric gases. Gradually, these weathering processes contribute to the generation of new soil and sediment.

This eventually undergoes compression over countless years to produce new rocks, thus completing the cycle of rock formation.

Chemical weathering

Chemical weathering, an intriguing process that alters the composition of rocks and minerals through environmental reactions, plays a crucial role in sculpting Earth’s landscape over millennia. This weathering process, typically instigated by elements such as water, air, specific bacteria, and even plants, can significantly weaken and disintegrate rocks.

For example, rainwater, rendered slightly acidic by airborne carbon dioxide, can dissolve certain minerals within rocks, thereby causing their breakdown. Also, the production of weathering chemicals by some plants and bacteria can contribute to this process.

A case in point is lichens on rocks, which release acids that gradually erode the rock surface. Furthermore, chemical weathering is a key player in soil formation, an element indispensable for plant growth.

Physical weathering

Physical weathering, a natural phenomenon that children find intriguing, involves the breakdown of rocks and minerals on the Earth’s surface into smaller fragments without altering their chemical makeup.

This intriguing process can occur due to a variety of natural influences such as changes in temperature, the action of water and wind, or even the activities of plants and animals. For instance, a process known as freeze-thaw weathering occurs when water enters a rock’s crack, freezes, expands, and subsequently causes the rock to fracture.

Similarly, plant roots can infiltrate rock crevices and split them. Such processes of physical weathering significantly contribute to the formation and shaping of our Earth’s landscapes.

Soil formation

Weathering is a fundamental part of soil formation that is crucial for youngsters to comprehend. This process involves the disintegration of rocks, minerals, and organic materials on the Earth’s surface due to physical and chemical reactions.

Over a period of time, it can transform sizeable rocks into tiny particles such as sand, silt, and clay – the primary constituents of soil. Weathering can be instigated by various elements like wind, rain, ice, or even plant roots that split rocks.

Spanning hundreds or even thousands of years, this process underscores that soil formation is a slow and continuous activity. The resulting soil type is determined by the weathering type and the nature of rocks that underwent weathering. Therefore, weathering significantly contributes to shaping our planet’s landscape and producing the soil used for our food cultivation.

Sedimentary rocks

Weathering serves a fundamental role in forming sedimentary rocks, which are largely composed of weathered particles from other rocks, plant debris, and remnants of animals. This weathered material forms when rocks exposed to natural elements, such as wind, water, and ice, slowly break down into smaller fragments, a process known as weathering.

These fragments, or sediments, accumulate and solidify over thousands to millions of years, resulting in layered sedimentary rocks. Intriguingly, each layer of these rocks provides scientists with significant insights into Earth’s history, revealing information about the climate and life forms that existed when each layer was formed.

Therefore, weathering not only contributes to the creation of sedimentary rocks but also offers invaluable knowledge about our planet’s historical timeline.

Freeze-thaw action

Freeze-thaw action, a fascinating form of weathering prevalent in colder climates, essentially involves water infiltrating crevices in rocks, freezing and subsequently expanding, with the transition to ice leading to a volume increase of approximately 9%.

This expansion exerts significant pressure on the encompassing rock, prompting it to splinter or fragment. This freeze-thaw cycle, particularly common in regions with regular temperature fluctuations around the freezing point, can recur repeatedly.

The cumulative effect of this process can bring about dramatic alterations to the landscape over time, as larger rocks are gradually reduced to smaller pieces.


The intriguing process of carbonation is pivotal to the natural world and crucial for children to comprehend. This slow-occurring chemical reaction, which can take hundreds or even thousands of years, involves carbon dioxide from the atmosphere merging with water to produce a mild acid known as carbonic acid.

This acid has the ability to slowly erode rocks, particularly limestone and marble, rendering them fragile and susceptible to further erosion. Carbonation plays a significant role in the Earth’s ecosystem, facilitating the creation of soil and molding the landscape we observe daily.

Therefore children, when you encounter a weathered rock, it’s likely that the process of carbonation has been at play!


Oxidation, an intriguing aspect of weathering, is a crucial concept for children to grasp. This process, which primarily involves metals reacting with atmospheric oxygen, contributes to the phenomenon of rusting, a form of weathering.

A common example of this process can be observed in an old, red-brown bicycle left in the rain, where the oxygen in the air and water oxidizes the iron in the bike, leading to the formation of iron oxide or rust. This gradual weathering process can deteriorate metals over extended periods.

Even iconic structures, such as the Statue of Liberty, are not immune to oxidation, resulting in its green hue over the years. Therefore, oxidation plays a significant role in the weathering process that continually reshapes our world.


Hydrolysis, an intriguing type of chemical weathering, occurs when water reacts with rock minerals, transforming them into different minerals and causing them to dissolve. Essentially, it’s a chemical makeover for rocks!

This process plays a vital role in nature, shaping our landscapes, creating soil, and contributing to the nutrient cycle. The awe-inspiring formations of the Grand Canyon, for instance, are largely the result of hydrolysis.

Moreover, it releases essential elements from rocks into the soil, aiding plant growth. So, the next time you gaze upon a massive, rocky mountain, remember that it could be slowly undergoing transformation due to the fascinating process of hydrolysis!

Easy Kids Science Facts on Weathering of Rock Image
Easy Kids Science Facts on Weathering of Rock Image

The Earth – and the rocks on the Earth – is a bit like that cake. The surface of the Earth is constantly being changed due to weathering processes. This process can take millions of years or happen relatively quickly.

Earth Science Fun Facts for Kids all about Weathering
Earth Science Fun Facts for Kids all about Weathering

Fun Facts about Weathering for Kids

  • Rain is mildly acidic and it slowly eats away rocks. Rain slowly dissolves limestone. It turns the feldspar in granite into soft clay. The remaining quartz crystals are often crushed into grains of sand.
  • Plants and microbes also attack rocks. All living things need elements, such as copper, potassium and iron, as nutrients. These minerals are found within rocks. Lichens grow on rocks and release acids to dissolve the minerals in them. Plant roots slowly grow into rocks, forcing them apart.
  • In cold areas, water seeps into cracks in the rocks during the day. At night, the water freezes and expands, cracking the rocks even more. This continual freeze and thaw cycle causes rocks to splinter and break into small pieces.
  • In the desert, rocks expand during the heat of the day and contract at night when temperatures cool. Sheets of rock slowly flake away.

Weathering Vocabulary

  1. Weathering: the process of wearing away and changing
  2. Microbe: microscopic life form
  3. Expand: become larger
  4. Contract: Become smaller

Learn More All About Weathering

Check out this cool video about Weathering for kids:

This video explains the factors and the process of weathering.

Weathering Q&A

Question: How are the types of weathering described?

Answer: Chemical weathering occurs when a chemical, such as acid rain, breaks down rocks. Mechanical weathering is the process of weathering through external forces, such as freeze and thaw cycles. When plants or microbes break down rocks, the process is known as organic weathering.


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