I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
This is part 6 of a 6 part hands-on unit study on Earth Science. Demonstrate various types of erosion as children carve gullies and valleys in sand using air, water, and ice. Re-create the Grand Canyon. Compare how soil resists erosion. My lessons are geared toward 2nd-3rd grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 0-12. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, camp, after school program, or co-op!
Introduction & Rivers Weathering Rocks
1. Read & discuss Psalm 102:25-28.
2. Skittle Erosion Contest: Pass out a Skittle candy (or something similar) to each child. Have them put the Skittle in their mouths at the same time. They should try to keep the Skittle in their mouth for all long as possible. It must stay in their mouths. We'll see who has the largest Skittle in a few minutes. We'll check again after the next activity.
YOU WILL NEED: 1 Skittle candy for each child
3. How do rivers weather rocks? Let children drop small, freshly broken pieces of rock or brick in a large jar. We used limestone. Softer rocks such as sandstone, shale, or limestone work best. Fill the jar about halfway with water. Set aside a few pieces of the broken rock to keep for comparison. Close the lid of the jar and let the children pass it around and shake it a bunch of times as we had the discussion below - activity #4. Take the rocks out and compare their appearance with the rock pieces that weren't shaken. Pour the water from the jar through a coffee filter (or funnel lined with paper towels) and notice the bits of rock. Compare this with what happens to rocks in a river? Rocks in rivers and streams are weathered by water and movement. (This activity came from this mini-unit.)
YOU WILL NEED: hard plastic or glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, freshly broken pieces of limestone rock or brick, & coffee filter
4. (While shaking up the jar in the above activity) Brainstorm all the ways the surface of Earth can change. Review the flood and changes to the earth. Briefly discuss erosion and how the flood eroded much of the Earth. Since the flood two forces, weathering and erosion, are constantly at work wearing away the rocks that make up Earth's crust. Weathering causes rocks to fragment, crack, crumble, or break down chemically. Erosion loosens and carries away the rock debris caused by weathering. Over time these two forces, working together, change the shape of the land.
Our Favorite Read-Aloud Picture Book on Erosion
Skittles & Water Erosion
5. Ask everyone to show their Skittle now. Ask & discuss what happened.
- What happened to it? Does it look the same? How is it different? Why is it smaller? Did the rest of the Skittle just disappear? No? Where did it go?
- Just like the Skittle got smaller due to your salvia/water, rocks and soil change shape & get smaller due to water erosion. The pieces of rock and soil don't just disappear. They go other places, which is what we call deposition.
***Divide children into pairs for the remaining activities.***
6. Wind erosion: Each pair will get a clear shoebox that has been filled with about 1/4 full of dry sand. Blow air over the sand (keeping your eyes closed). Try to "carve" gullies and valleys with the air. Observe the movement of sand - where it blows and the shapes it forms. Ask, "What happened to the sand as you blew?" and "Could you make the whole pile move if you blew across it long enough?" Next place some stones around the sand in order to try to keep the sand from moving. Again make wind by blowing. Ask, "Do the rocks make a difference in how the soil is eroded?" and, "Can you think of any examples of wind erosion in nature?" Show pictures of the Sahara or Gobi Desserts.
YOU WILL NEED: 2-3 small rocks per pair of students, 1 clear shoe boxes or container of similar size per pair of students, enough sand to cover the bottom of each container, & pictures of deserts
7. Water erosion: Ask who has walked along the Suwannee River. Have they noticed what the water does to the bank? Where does the soil go that falls into the water? Raise one end of the erosion tray. Sprinkle water on the sand. Notice the movement of sand. It should be forming gullies. Place several rocks across the surface and sprinkle again. Ask, "Do the rocks change the way the water eroded the sand?" Discuss the direction that eroded material travels (uphill, downhill?) Have the students form a mountain with the sand. Make one side rather steep. Aim water at the base of the cliff. Demonstrate how water can undercut a hillside and cause a landslide. Push the sand to one end to form a beach. Use fingers to cause waves and watch the sand erode away. Show pictures of water erosion.
(Use the sand, containers, rocks, etc. from activity 4.)
YOU WILL NEED: containers to use for sprinkling water & pictures of water erosion
(*If you would like to spend more time on this, you can allow children to weather away a bar of soap using the directions found at http://www.coaleducation.org/lessons/primary/other/minand.htm .)
8. (Optional) Show pictures of the Grand Canyon. Begin playing Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe in the background. Briefly talk about Providence Canyon. Using a pre-made model of the Grand Canyon*, pour boiling hot water over the model. Ask children to describe the effect the different layers have on the erosion of the canyon. Point out this is what happened during the flood.
*To make a model of the Grand Canyon: Cut out the middle section of one of the short sides of a cardboard box. (The lid of a shoe box works well.) Cover the bottom of the box with a layer of mud or wet soil. Allow the mud to dry. Cover this layer with another layer of a different color. Repeat with many layers until the box is full, allowing each layer time to dry. If you don't have different colors of soil, you can mix in some colored playground sand with each layer of mud. This takes about a week to complete.
YOU WILL NEED: model of Grand Canyon (see above directions), pictures of Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe, & CD player (OR play the song on YouTube on your phone)
Book we used to show pictures of the Grand Canyon
9. Glacier Erosion: Press an ice cube against the flat surface of modeling clay and move it back and forth several times and observe. Then place a small pile of sand on the clay. The ice cube should be placed on top of the sand and left for one minute (count to 60 by 2's, 5's, and 10's). Then pick up the ice cube and observe the surface of the cube that was touching the sand. The same side of the ice cube should then be placed on the sandy part of the clay and moved back and forth several times. The ice cube should be removed, the sand should be wiped away from the surface of the clay, and the clay's surface texture should be recorded.
- What happened to the clay the first time you wiped the cube against it?
- What happened to the ice cube after it sat on the on the sand?
- What did the surface of the clay look like after you rubbed the cube against it the second time?
- Can you give any examples of Glacier erosion?
Show pictures of Hubbard Glacier in Alaska or Matterhorn in Switzerland
YOU WILL NEED: 1 piece of modeling clay for each pair of students
10. How can you stop some erosion? Place a piece of sod in one erosion tray (i.e. the lid to the plastic shoebox). Fill another half full of just soil. Tilt both trays. Put an equal amount of water in two watering cans. Water each tray. Compare how much water and soil has collected at the bottom of the tray.
YOU WILL NEED: soil, a piece of sod including the roots with soil, 2 small containers of water, 2 flat containers (such as the lids to the plastic shoe boxes)
(*If you would like to add in good worksheets on erosion, you can find free ones at http://mjksciteachingideas.com/WED.html .)
11. 5 Minute Review of what we learned.
12. Continue with the Earth Science Presentations and Wrap-up.
Need More Activity Ideas?
Material List For This Lesson
For this lesson, you will need:
- a Skittle candy for each student
- hard plastic or glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, freshly broken pieces of rock or brick, & coffee filter
- 2-3 small rocks per pair of students, 1 clear shoe boxes or container of similar size per pair of students, enough sand to cover the bottom of each container, & pictures of deserts
- containers to use for sprinkling water & pictures of water erosion
- model of Grand Canyon (see above directions), pictures of Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe, & CD player or your phone
- 1 piece of modeling clay for each pair of students
- soil, a piece of sod including the roots with soil, 2 small containers of water, 2 flat containers (such as the lids to the plastic shoe boxes)
Our Favorite Children's Picture Books on the Grand Canyon
We really enjoyed reading:
- Down the Colorado : John Wesley Powell, the one-armed explorer by Deborah Kogan Ray,
- Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (has evolutionary language), and
- Charlie and Trike in the Grand Canyon Adventure by Ken Ham (Christian perspective).
Our Favorite Picture Books on Glaciers
- Glaciers: Nature's Icy Caps (Earth Works) by David L. Harrison is a storybook and would make a good read aloud to introduce glaciers. I had to change words and skip pages due to evolutionary language.
- The Totally Out There Guide to Glacier National Park by Donna Love provides good information and has illustrations, though I did have to change words and skip pages due to evolutionary language.
- Icebergs and Glaciers by Seymour Simon has good photographs and is interesting enough that you could also use it as a read aloud to introduce glaciers and icebergs. I had to change words and skip pages due to evolutionary language.
- Glaciers: Rivers of Ice (Lifeviews) by Michael George has some good pictures to use as you introduce various terms if you would prefer to use a book rather than pictures from your phone or computer.
Crash Course: Weathering & Erosion for Kids
Bill Nye on Erosion
Make an edible model of the earth as you study the Earth's layers, bake cookies that demonstrate how sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks form, create fossil casts, build marshmallow structures that can withstand a jell-o earthquake, carve gullies and valleys in sand using wind, water, and ice, make presentations on various aspects of the Earth, and more during this 6 lesson hands-on unit study of Earth Science!
- Earth's Layers and Soil Composition Lesson - This is part 1 of a 6 part hands-on unit on Earth Science from a Christian perspective. Make an edible model of the earth, act out each of the Earth's layers, do core testing on a cupcake, make oobleck, and more!
- Rock Classification Lesson - This is part 2 of a 6 part hands-on unit on Earth Science from a Christian perspective. Make and eat "Sedimentary" Seven Layer Bars, create "Metamorphic" Snickers bars, do some rock mining, and more!
- Fossils Lesson - This is part 3 of a 6 part hands-on unit on Earth Science from a Christian perspective. The focus of this lesson is fossils! Create fossils casts, dig up and piece together dinosaur skeletons, excavate dinosaurs, eat edible ammonites, and more!
- Plate Tectonics and Volcanoes Lesson - This is part 4 of a 6 part hands-on unit study on Earth Science. Make edible volcanoes, build an erupting ring of fire, demonstrate plate tectonics using graham crackers, form each type of volcano using play-doh, and more!
- Earthquakes Lesson - This is part 5 of a 6 part hands-on unit study on Earth Science. Create a tsunami, build marshmallow structures that can withstand an earthquake, act out seismic waves, build and use a seismograph, and more!
- Erosion Lesson - This is part 6 of a 6 part hands-on unit study on Earth Science. Demonstrate various types of erosion as children carve gullies and valleys in sand using air, water, and ice. Re-create the Grand Canyon. Compare how soil resists erosion.
- Earth Science Presentation and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating project we did after a 6 part hands-on unit on Earth Science. We made edible volcanoes, performed earth science demonstrations, displayed paintings of the earth's layers and volcanoes, sang songs about the earth science, and more! Also included are the field trips we attended during this unit.
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use KONOS Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend the KONOS HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2011 Shannon
Have You Visited the Grand Canyon? - What was your favorite part? If you haven't gone, are you hoping to go and why?
Shannon (author) from Florida on August 06, 2012:
@antoniow: Thank you!
antoniow on August 06, 2012:
Awesome lens, great job! Squidlike
Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on May 02, 2012:
Grand Canyon is still on my list. Well, half of the world is, but Grand Canyon is in the upper part of the list... Thanks for attractive earth science unit. I think it is more than useful for people who don't homeschool their kids too. Thanks!
julieannbrady on March 09, 2012:
I've yet to visit the Grand Canyon. I love the science studies as you present them. Living in Florida, we gain new appreciations for the risk of erosion. I've even got a study of it in my back yard. No laughing matter.
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on November 15, 2011:
Very informative lens, I live in New Zealand, may be you would like to have a look at one of my lens, walk in east Taranaki bush and see the photos of erosion here, where we live, very heavy rainfall here, it would be good if we could stop all the erosion.Have a nice day Blessed
lasertek lm on May 16, 2011:
Very informative and great looking lens. Awesome job!