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Kelly Scollard

TD 513
February 4, 2016

Water: Nature’s Powerful Earth Mover

Students will seek to answer the inquiry question: How can water change the shape of the land?
Many elementary students believe that the earth’s land formations are stagnant, changing only in
the event of natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes or tsunamis. Students will learn that
rain water, streams, waves and runoff can all have major impacts on their surrounding land
masses over time. Students will observe their environment, experiment with water and sand
“land masses” and record their observations and hypothesize about their implications. Then they
will read about erosion and watch informational videos to discover how water can change the
shape of the land. At the end of the lesson students will have a clear understanding of the term
erosion and how it effects the landscape.

Target Learning Group:

This lesson is appropriate for 2nd grade students.

Approximate Time Involved:

Teacher hint: It may be better to perform this inquiry outdoors.
Day 1
15-20 minutes of classroom discussion.
15-20 minutes of outdoor observation.
Day 2
1 hour prep time:
Teacher must gather supplies and prepare stations several groups of 4-5 students. Each group
needs: 1) sand, 2) a dishpan or foil pan for each student 3) a water source 4) various instruments
for introducing water to their land mass (cup, baster, sprinkling watering can, eye dropper) and
6) “Sand and Water” handout for each student.
15-20 minutes of instruction
40 minutes of experimentation, observation and clean-up
20 minutes of explanation
Day 3
15 minutes of instruction
Kelly Scollard
TD 513
February 4, 2016

40 minutes of elaboration with different soil types

20 minutes post assessment

Science Content Background Information for Teacher with References:

Erosion is the act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice. No rock is hard
enough to resist the forces of weathering and erosion.
The process of erosion moves bits of rock or soil from one place to another. Most erosion is
performed by water, wind, or ice (usually in the form of a glacier). These forces carry the rocks
and soil from the places where they were weathered. If water is muddy, it is a sign that erosion is
taking place. The brown color indicates that bits of rock and soil are suspended in the water and
being transported from one place to another. This transported material is called sediment. When
wind or water slows down, or ice melts, sediment is deposited in a new location.

Erosion by Water

Moving water is the major agent of erosion. Rain carries away bits of soil and slowly washes
away rock fragments. Rushing streams and rivers wear away their banks, creating larger and
larger valleys. In a span of about 5 million years, the Colorado River cut deeper and deeper into
the land in what is now the U.S. state of Arizona. It eventually formed the Grand Canyon, which
is more than 1,600 meters (1 mile) deep and as much as 29 kilometers (18 miles) wide in some

Erosion by water changes the shape of coastlines. Waves constantly crash against shores. They
pound rocks into pebbles and reduce pebbles to sand. Water sometimes takes sand away from
beaches. This moves the coastline farther inland.

The battering of ocean waves also erodes seaside cliffs. It sometimes bores holes that
form caves. When water breaks through the back of the cave, it creates an arch. The continual
pounding of the waves can cause the top of the arch to fall, leaving nothing but rock columns.
These are called sea stacks. All of these features make rocky beaches beautiful, but also
Erosion. (2011). Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

Accommodations for deaf or hard of hearing student:

Kelly Scollard
TD 513
February 4, 2016

Accommodations for Students with Hearing Loss - Success For Kids With Hearing Loss. (2012,
August). Retrieved February 28, 2016, from
NGSS Performance Expectations Involved:
Science Practices:
Modeling in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to include using and developing
models (i.e., diagram, drawing, physical replica, diorama, dramatization, or storyboard) that
represent concrete events or design solutions.

Disciplinary Core Idea:

ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
-Wind and water can change the shape of the land. (2-ESS2-1)

Cross Cutting Concepts:

Stability and Change
-Things may change slowly or rapidly. (2-ESS2-1)
Science Addresses Questions About the Natural and Material World
-Scientists study the natural and material world. (2-ESS2-1)

Materials and Advanced Preparation:

For each group of 4-5 students you will need.
- dishpans or other waterproof large containers (one for each student)
- 1-2 cups of sand/student
- 1 cup, one sprinkling watering can or shaker, one eye dropper, one baster (per group)
- One “Sand and Water” handout per student
- 2 “How do I think water changes the shape of the land” handouts per student
- 1 “Different types of soil and water” handout per student
- Water source (pan of water or faucet)
Set up a station for each group of students with all of the required materials.
Lesson References:
Billy Blue Hair - What is Erosion? (2012, August 13). Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

Deposition & Erosion. (2007, September 26). Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

Faber, J. (n.d.). How Can Water Change the Shape of the Land? Retrieved February 28, 2016,
Kelly Scollard
TD 513
February 4, 2016

Koontz, R. M., & Harrad, M. (2007). Erosion: Changing Earth's surface. Minneapolis, MN:
Picture Window Books.

B. Y. (2014, July 25). Slow-motion sandcastle vs wave. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

Safety Considerations:
Explain the importance of keeping the water and sand in the containers and not creating a
slippery environment if attempting the experiment in the classroom. Also, provide a disciplinary
strategy for any student seen throwing water at another student.
Science Activity
Day 1 (15-20 minutes)
Gather on the carpet. Talk about building sand castles on the beach and ask what happens if they
are too close to the water. Show slow motion video of sand castle in the waves.
Have child with hearing impairment sit close to teacher.
Encourage only one child to speak at a time to limit background noise.
Close classroom door during discussions to limit background noise.
Ask how many live on dirt roads. Are they always smooth? What makes them bumpy
Ask students to name some different types of water that we find in our natural environment. List
all of the answers on the board. (eg. Streams, rivers, waterfalls, waves, floods, rain).
Ask them if they think that this kind of water can change the shape of the land and how. Is it a
fast process or a slow process?
Have them draw how they think that water may change the shape of the land. Handout “How I
think Water Can Change the Shape of the Land.”
Day 1 (15-20 minutes)
After pre-assessment look around schoolyard for examples of where water may have had an
effect on the land (eg. Erosion on a hill, around the banks of a stream, where gutters run off,
where rain may collect when it rains). Ideally, teacher has identified some areas to show the
students. Discuss with students why they think the land has taken the shape that it has.
Make sure student with hearing impairment is located where he can see the teacher’s mouth
while she is talking.
Kelly Scollard
TD 513
February 4, 2016

Tell them we are going to try to discover the answer to the question: How does water change
the shape of the land?
Day 2 (45 minutes)
The teacher will explain that they are going to try to figure out for themselves how different
types of naturally occurring water phenomena affect the landscape.
Each group of 4 students will have a station with a dishpan and 1-2 cups of moist sand for each
student. They will each get a different type of device to introduce water to their “land mass” (a
cup, sprinkling watering can, eye dropper and turkey baster).
Before they touch anything, explain and demonstrate that they are going to build a “land mass”
out of their sand.
They should then use their hands to build a mound out of the sand in their dishpan. Remind
them to be careful to keep the sand IN the dishpan.
Have student with hearing impairment sit where s/he can see the teacher’s mouth and near
enough to hear.
Close door to room during instruction to minimize background noise.
Have the children draw on their worksheets what their “land mass” looks like before they have
put any water on it.
Show the children the different instruments that you have for adding water to their “land mass”.
Each group should have a turkey baster, sprinkling watering can, cup, and an eyedropper. Each
member of the group can choose 1 instrument to experiment with.
Ask them if they can think of a way to make the water act like the different bodies of water listed
on the board from yesterday when they add their water to their land mass. Go around to groups
and discuss (a parent or two would be helpful here so that all groups could begin their
experiments quickly)
Once a student has a land mass and water instrument he can have a 1/4 cup of water. Remind
Students perform their experiments and draw the results on the “Sand and Water” handout.
They then compare their results with other members of their groups.
Students gather on the carpet as a class and compare the results of their experiments
Read the book Erosion: Changing Earth’s Surface by Koontz
Show Billy Blue Hair Video: What is Erosion? (Show video with captions)
Show video clip of beach eroding over the course of a year.
Kelly Scollard
TD 513
February 4, 2016

Ask them if they think that it looks like their experiments.

Students groups can then perform the same science activity using different types of soils such as
clay, silt soil and garden soil see what effect the soil type has on erosion.
They will draw their results on “Different Types of Soil and Water Handout”.
Real World Connections
Sand castles, local beaches, creeks or rivers, rain water and puddles.
Evaluate (post assessment)
Have students draw a picture of how water can cause changes in the land and write a sentence
using the word “erosion” properly. Use “How I Think Water Changes the Shape of the Land”
handout. It must include something about the movement of soil by water.