Thursday, August 11, 2022

9 Fun Activities to Teach Weathering and Erosion

It took me by surprise my first year of teaching Year 4 when I saw how engaged and into rocks my class was when learning about weathering and erosion. And year after year, it holds true that this is their favourite science unit! It's also my favourite to teach. I get excited every year when we do this unit. I've also been known to collect and carry rocks back from long and difficult hikes just because I thought the kids would love them!

So here are a 10 quick and easy activities you can implement tomorrow during your rocks, weathering and erosion science unit. 

1. Get Outside 

Walk around the school ask and students to look for signs of weathering and erosion. Identify the causes of the rocks breaking down and the agents of erosion that moved the sediments to a new location. This is a great activity to identify REAL examples and to reinforce appropriate vocabulary to talk about these changes to the Earth’s surface.

Use iPad to take photos of Weathering and Erosion

Tip: Students can take photos to annotate and record the signs and possible causes of erosion on their iPad’s as they are walking around.

 2. Create an Observation Station

Kids love looking at rocks! Ask them to bring in rocks from home and collect interesting rocks yourself. You can also purchase small gem kits from Scholastic. Put the rocks on display with some magnifying glasses and bowls to sort by observable characteristics and your only problem will be keeping the kids away!

Observation Station for Weathering and Erosion

3. Get Hands-On

Weathering Experiments
Let the kids see weathering and erosion in action by doing hands-on activities that investigate chemical and physical weathering with simple materials like sugar cubes, sandpaper and a little vinegar!

To investigate erosion, I take the kids to the sandpit and make some sandcastles! We conduct fair tests to see the effect different amounts of water has on the sandcastles. Later we test and demonstrate how different erosion prevention strategies, such as planting trees and plants, work on the sandcastles under the same conditions. 

4. Explore Online

Use Google Earth to look at landforms from around the world such as Wave Rock in Western Australia, the Hoodoos in Bruce Canyon or Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. The kids could explore Google Earth all day if I let them!


5. Anchor Learning

Create a chart together that shows the Weathering, Erosion and Deposition process. Students love drawing this one found all over google in their Science Journals.

Weathering Erosion Anchor Chart

6. Read Books

Put a range of good quality books at a range of reading levels with your rock sorting or Observation Station and have them available as free choice reading.

 Weathering Erosion Books7. Case Study

Repurpose the earlier photos from around the school later in the unit to apply  erosion prevention strategies.

Students can use apps like Explain Basics or SeeSaw to draw, annotate and record the strategies they would use to fix and prevent further erosion in an area.

8. Review Key Vocabulary

Who doesn’t love a good word search or cross word? Cross Words are great in helping kids remember definitions of key words that you need them to know and use!

9. Watch a Video

Magic School Bus “Rocks and Rolls” anyone? Also check out some good videos by Crash Course Kids on YouTube like Weathering and Erosion and The Grand CanyonMake Your Own Erosion is another good one (do the investigation too!). You can also find before and afters of natural landforms such as the 12 Apostles in Victoria, Australia. Scrat’sContinental Crack Up is a fun video to watch when introducing the topic at the start of the unit. 

So that's it! 9 easy but fun weathering and erosion activities to add next time you do this unit. What are your fun ideas? Share them in the comments!

9 Fun Ways to Teach Weathering and Erosion