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Elementary Education Lesson Plan

Student Name: Sally Kwon
Grade Level: 4th grade
Topic: Watersheds
Students will need to know what watersheds are and the benefits of maintaining a clean
water supply. This relates to their lives directly, as they use the water from these watersheds on a
daily basis. Making this connection will help students realize the importance of keeping the
community and water resources clean. I wanted to provide many visuals for this lesson, because
it’s easier to understand the process of how watersheds work by seeing it in action. First, I
wanted to show a picture of it to get an idea of what it is and then move on to seeing it in action
through the activity. Showing the Virginia’s main watersheds will help them see that many
people are connected within one watershed, emphasizing how a watershed has an effect on
everyone downstream.
Enduring Understandings:

Protection of the natural resources in our watershed is essential to maintain the health and
well being of all living things.

Essential Questions:

Why are watersheds important to us?
What are ways to keep our water supplies clean?

Primary Content Objectives:
Students will know:

Watershed is a geographic area of land where all the water drains towards the same
Each watershed is separated from adjacent watershed by a geographic barrier, such as a
ridge, hill, or mountain.

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes.
Water drains downhill and carries sediments and other materials to the final destination.
Materials that people dump on the ground washes into the watershed when it rains, which
can pollute the water.

Students will be able to do:

Locate the major Virginia watershed systems on a map (Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of
Mexico, and North Carolina Sounds).
Create and interpret a model of a watershed. Evaluate the statement: “We all live

Related state or national standards:
Virginia Science SOL

Standard 4.8 The student will investigate and understand important Virginia natural
resources. Key concepts include
a) Watershed and water resources

Virginia Earth Science SOL

ES.8 The student will investigate and understand how freshwater resources are influenced
by geologic processes and the activities of humans. Key concepts include
f) Identification of the major watershed systems in Virginia, including the
Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.


Questioning/ Observation (Formative): Throughout the lesson, I will be asking questions
to check for student understanding as well as to grab their attention. At the beginning, I
will ask, “How the students used water today” to grab their attention on something we all
have in common. Other questions will ask whether they know what watershed is or which
watershed we are a part of and etc. This will help me alter my instruction if students need
more explanation on a certain part of the lesson. During the activity, I will observe each
group to make sure that students understood the directions and are thinking about how the
water is flowing and where their watershed is.
Picture Questions (Formative): To assess their learning process on watersheds, I will ask
students to answer two questions about the watershed picture with a partner. They will do
this right after I go over the picture in detail. I will make sure to go around and listen to
their discussions to see what areas the students understand or not. After the students talk
with their partners, we will share as a group. This discussion will help me decide if I need
to go over the picture again to make sure students have a solid understanding of how the
watershed works.

Exit Slip (Summative): To assess what students have learned, they will complete an exit
slip that asks 2 questions. The first one asks about what the student has noticed from their
watershed activity. This lets me know that they were engaged and were actively
observing what was happening when they sprayed water on to the paper. The second
question asks students to think about the overall picture as to why it is important for them
to take care of their rivers, streams, and community.

Materials and Resources:

Whiteboard & marker
Watershed picture with questions on back
Virginia Map with 3 watersheds labeled
5 green, brown, and red Crayola markers
Additional colored markers
5 foil bins
15 pieces of Freezer paper (size of foil bin)
5 spray bottles with water
25 exit slips
5 copies of each additional scenario directions cards
Black sprinkles (in 5 little containers)
Cocoa powder (in 5 little containers)
Green gel (in 5 little containers)
5 Popsicle sticks

Key Vocabulary and Definitions:

Watershed: an area of land where all the water above and below the ground flows to the
same place.
Tributaries: streams that feed larger streams, lakes, or rivers.
Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, North Carolina Sounds: 3 major watersheds in

Lesson Procedures:
1. Introduction and goal orientation: (5 minutes)
a. Students will be seated at their table (pre-assigned group table).
b. Hook
i. “Raise your hand if you used water before you came to school today.”
ii. “How did you use it? What did you use it for?”
1. Possible Responses: washing hands/washing face/drinking water/
taking a shower/cleaning dishes.
iii. “Where do you think the water that you used today came from?”
1. Possible Reponses: rivers/streams/store/wells/rain/snow/bay/ocean

c. Discuss the topic and goal for today’s lesson.
i. “Water covers about 71% of the Earth’s surface, so you would think we
have a lot of water to use, but most of it is salt water that we can’t really
drink. (Does anyone know the percentage of how much fresh water we
have on Earth?) Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water. And a lot of
that fresh water is trapped in icebergs, glaciers, and snowcaps, so we’re
only left with 1% of fresh water to use from rivers, lakes, underground
water, and reservoirs. Therefore, water is limited and very precious to us.”
ii. “Rain and snow are our main sources of water, and so today, we’re going
to explore what happens to water when it falls on land as it rains or
2. Connecting to prior knowledge and experiences: (20 minutes)
a. Write “Watershed” on the board.
i. “Raise your hand if you’ve heard of or know what a watershed is.”
1. Call on a student, if no students raise their hands, define it: a
geographic area of land where all the water drains towards the
same destination.
a. “So, all the water from rain, melting snow, or ice drains
DOWNHILL into a body of water, such as the river, lake
reservoir, or ocean. It’s similar to a funnel.”
b. Hand out the watershed picture to a pair of students, to help them in visualizing
what it looks like.
i. “I want you to look at the yellow lines, these show you the highest point of
mountains and hills, so all of the rain is going to flow inside the yellow
lines. This means that the opposite sides of mountains, hills, and ridges are
part of different watersheds. The blue arrows show you the direction of
where the water is going downhill, all leading to the watershed in the
middle. Do you see these thin squiggly blue lines that connect down to the
big river in the middle? These are called Tributaries (write word on the
board), which are small streams that connect to bigger streams, lakes, or
rivers. Where is all of the water going in the picture? (Call on one
student). Are there any questions so far about the watershed, the picture,
anything we’ve covered?”
c. Picture Questions
i. “I want you to flip the picture over and talk about the two questions with
your partner. You don’t have to write anything down, I just want you to
talk about it with one another.”
ii. Walk around and observe. Help students who didn’t seem to understand
the watershed picture.
iii. “So, how is all the water going to the same location? What did you and
your partner talk about?”
1. Possible Responses: they all go down hill, to the lowest area/
downwards because of the mountains and hills

iv. “What did you and your partner talk about for the second question?”
1. Possible Responses: it’s going to pollute the entire watershed/ the
oil is going to end up in the watershed, because their all
2. “Yes! What happens in the tributaries of a watershed has an effect
on everyone downstream, even the plants and animals.”
d. Virginia Watersheds
i. “Now, we’re going to see where our community’s watershed is located.”
ii. Place map of Virginia on the board.
iii. “There are 3 major watershed systems in Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay
watershed covers almost half of Virginia (point to it). The other two are
Gulf of Mexico (point) and the North Carolina Sounds (point). Who would
like to come up show us where we are on the map?”
1. Call on a student and let the student mark the location with a
2. Ask the student, “So, which watershed are we a part of?”
i. Chesapeake Bay
3. “That means that most of our water comes from and goes down to
Chesapeake Bay (point)”.
e. Big Idea
i. “Water traveling over land can carry many things that can pollute the
water. What are some things that can pollute the water?
1. Possible Responses: pet waste, fertilizer, trash, litter
ii. So it’s important to know how the watershed works and which watershed
we’re a part of, so we can take care of it.”
3. Tasks and activities: (20 minutes)
a. Introduce Activity
i. “Now, in groups, you’re going to be making your own watershed to see
how this process works.”
b. Directions (Model)
i. Each table will be a group.
ii. Each group will get a foil bin, freezer paper, markers, and a spray bottle.
iii. Each group will create a unique landscape by crumpling up the paper. The
paper is then opened partway to reveal mountains, valley, crevices, etc.
iv. Place the paper in the bin.
v. Use the marker to mark the highest points of the landscape, place an X
with a different marker to mark where you and your group will think the
water will collect.
vi. Each student picks a place to draw his/her house, and mark it on the paper.
vii. Students will draw roads, as well.
viii. Finally, students will use the spray bottle and spray the paper from the top
(to portray rain) until they see where the water is flowing and collecting.

ix. If a group finishes early, they will get a scenario card that shows water
picking up waste during the watershed process. There are 2 different
scenario cards.

c. Remind group rules
i. “Since this is a group activity, should one person be in charge of the
group? I’ll write group jobs on the board and you and your group can
either divide these jobs or have everyone take turns doing each of these
ii. Write Jobs
1. Draw roads, draw houses, trace highest peaks, crumpling paper,
spraying water.
d. Hand out the materials.
e. Walk around and observe to see students’ watersheds and to see if any groups
need any clarifications or help.
4. Closure: (How will you wrap up the lesson and reinforce key ideas? Closure may include
some form of assessment or exit slip) (10 minutes)
a. Give a two-minute warning, before cleaning up.
i. “I want everyone to stop and place your bin in the middle of the table.”
b. Hand out exit slip
i. “I’ll give you about 3 minutes to answer these questions, and we’ll talk
about them.”
c. Discussion
i. “What did you and your group notice about your watershed? Were your
predictions correct? Did you have more than one watershed?”
ii. “Which way did the water go?”
1. Possible Response: downhill/ down

iii. “So, why do you think it’s important to take care of our streams, rivers,
1. Possible Response: since water goes downhill, if we litter and put
trash anywhere, then it can go down to our watershed.
iv. “Absolutely, we can make a big difference in the health of watersheds by
making sure not to litter, cleaning up after our pets, not using too much
fertilizer, because remember, we only have that 1% of freshwater that we
can use on Earth!”
d. Collect the exit slip.
Accommodations for individual differences:

The picture of the watershed provides a visual for students who learn better by having a
resource to reference to.
I will have 2 additional scenarios about pollution for groups who finish early. They may
choose which activity they want to.
If I see students who struggle to understand the concept of the watershed, during the
picture questions, I will provide additional help to those students by offering hints and
clues to answer the questions.

Behavioral and organizational strategies:

I will explicitly say that each student should have a turn to use the spray. This is to make
sure no conflicts occur during the activity.
I will briefly model the activity by showing the students exactly what to do once they
may start. I will model this in front of the room so all of the students can see.
I will make sure to be clear with my directions so students know what to expect and will
give them time warnings to help them get ready for the transition.