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Erosion Lesson

Updated on November 7, 2015

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. Stretch & pray.

2. Discuss Psalm 102:25-28.

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.)

TEACHER/PARENT 1: YOU WILL NEED: glass jar with a lid, freshly broken pieces of rock or brick, & coffee filter

Good Picture Books on Erosion

Erosion: Changing Earth's Surface (Amazing Science)
Erosion: Changing Earth's Surface (Amazing Science)

This would be the best option for a read aloud book to introduce erosion. This has some good text and nice illustrations. I had to change words and skip pages because of evolutionary language.

 
Cracking Up: A Story About Erosion (Science Works)
Cracking Up: A Story About Erosion (Science Works)

This has some good text and nice illustrations. I had to change words and skip pages because of evolutionary language.

 
Demonstrating wind erosion (The purple stuff is just playground sand dyed purple. It just happened to be only sand we had at the time.  You can just use regular sand.)
Demonstrating wind erosion (The purple stuff is just playground sand dyed purple. It just happened to be only sand we had at the time. You can just use regular sand.)

Wind Erosion

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.

***Divide children into pairs for the remaining activities.***

5. 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.

TEACHER/PARENT 2: YOU WILL NEED: 12-24 small rocks, 6 clear shoeboxes, sand, pictures of deserts

Demonstrating water erosion
Demonstrating water erosion

Water Erosion

6. 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.)

TEACHER/PARENT 3: 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 .)

Grand Canyon

7. (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.

TEACHER/PARENT 4: YOU WILL NEED: model of Grand Canyon (see above directions), pictures of Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe, & CD player

Grand Canyon a Different View
Grand Canyon a Different View

This is a gem! This 96 page coffee-table-worthy book of gorgeous photographs also includes information on how the Grand Canyon shows signs of being formed during a catastrophic flood (like the one during the time of Noah). The authors provide Christian/Creation-based guided tours of the grand canyon, so with this book you're basically getting that tour without having to pay for a ticket to AZ. Since it is written from a Christian perspective, so you don't have to worry about changing and/or skipping over words.

 

Favorite Picture Books on the Grand Canyon

Also look for "Grand Canyon: Exploring Natural Wonder" by Wendell Minor, "Grand Canyon: A Trail Through Time" by Linda Vieira, & "Mule Train Mail" by Craig Brown.

Charlie and Trike in the Grand Canyon Adventure (The Green Notebook Series)
Charlie and Trike in the Grand Canyon Adventure (The Green Notebook Series)

This is a good Christian picture book and is fun to read! It has fold out pages, lift-up flags, and little miniature notebooks on some of the pages. A monkey and his friend, a triceratops, hike along the Grand Canyon, hunting for fossils and searching for clues to what happened during the flood during the time of Noah. Meanwhile, the monkey has to take precautions because he is certain their tour guide is really a pirate!

 
The Adventures of Salt and Soap at Grand Canyon
The Adventures of Salt and Soap at Grand Canyon

This is the adorably cute TRUE story of 2 puppies who travel through the Grand Canyon. The illustrations are a delight! My children (ages 2-9) loved this book!

 
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Glacier Erosion

8. 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.

Ask:

- 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

TEACHER/PARENT 1: YOU WILL NEED: 6 pieces of modeling clay and sand

Our Favorite Picture Books on Glaciers

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.

Glaciers: Nature's Icy Caps (Earth Works)
Glaciers: Nature's Icy Caps (Earth Works)

This 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.

 
How plants help stop eroision
How plants help stop eroision

Stopping Erosion

9. 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.

TEACHER/PARENT 2: YOU WILL NEED: soil and a piece of sod

(*If you would like to add in good worksheets on erosion, you can find free ones at http://mjksciteachingideas.com/WED.html .)

10. 5 Minute Review of what we learned.

11. Continue with the Earth Science Presentations and Wrap-up.

Material List For This Lesson

For this lesson, you will need:

- glass jar with a lid, freshly broken pieces of rock or brick, & coffee filter

- 12-24 small rocks, 6 clear shoeboxes, sand, 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

- 6 pieces of modeling clay and sand

- soil and a piece of sod

Ready for the other lessons?

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.

Bill Nye on Erosion

Have you been to the Grand Canyon?

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Konos Volume II
Konos Volume II

Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

Konos Curriculum

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!

Konos Home School Mentor

If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend 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 iijuan12

Have You Visited the Grand Canyon? - What was your favorite part? If you haven't gone, are you hoping to go and why?

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    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 5 years ago

      Very informative and great looking lens. Awesome job!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      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

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      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      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.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      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!

    • profile image

      antoniow 4 years ago

      Awesome lens, great job! Squidlike

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @antoniow: Thank you!

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