What Is The Difference Between Bodies of Water

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SWBAT differentiate between different forms of bodies of water

Big Idea

Fresh water on earth can be found in a variety of different formats. Drinking water comes from some of these sources.

Background Information

The Next Generation Science Standard ESS2-3, under the heading of the role of water in the earth's surface processes, says that water is found in the ocean, rivers, lakes and ponds and that water exists as solid ice and in liquid form.  
During a reading lesson using the book, "Water on Earth" by      . I realized that my students did not know the difference between a river, a lake, a pond, or a stream. Several students described a stream as a lake that is kind of long. When I asked them if it was like a river they said no, it was more like a skinny lake. I realized that before students could think about how water on earth may cause changes in the land, they needed to understand where water is found. This lesson is an designed to address the differences between fresh water lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. Students understand what an ocean is because they live in an ocean community, but for students in other parts of the country, oceans might also be a part of this lesson.
According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary, a stream is a natural flow of water smaller than a river. A river is  a large natural flow of water that crosses an area of land and goes into an ocean, a lake, etc. A lake is a considerable inland body of standing water. A pond is an area of water that is surrounded by land and that is smaller than a lake.

What Do We Already Know

10 minutes

Today I begin by clarifying for myself what students already know about a river, lake, stream and pond. I post several pictures on the Smart Board (or other display device). I say, "tell me if the picture is a lake, a river, a stream or a pond by checking off the appropriate box after each number on their paper." I show the first picture and say, "on your paper next to number 1 check off lake, river, stream or pond." I repeat this process with the rest of the pictures. As students work, I circulate around the room to see if they understand the differences between the 4. From previous conversations with students I am assuming that there will be some confusion that we will address in the next part of the lesson. I especially expect that there will be confusion around stream and pond.

I do not show all 3 pond pictures in a row, but vary the order in which I show the pictures.

Once students are done, I collect their papers and ask them to come to the rug. (Again I glance through the papers as students come to the rug to look for confusions.) 

Attributes of Each One

15 minutes

With students seated on the rug I want to see if we can figure out the attributes of lakes, streams, ponds and rivers. I want students to take an active role in the activity so they are learning the attributes and not just listening to me. 

I have created a set of cards with a single attribute of a lake, stream, pond or river. I also have 4 large overlapping circles on the floor. Each circle is labeled with one of the 4 bodies of water. The overlaps make it possible for an attribute to go in more than one category.

We are creating a Venn Diagram on the floor.

I hand each student a card and tell them, "you will each have a turn to put your card on the floor in the circle, or circles you think it belongs in. If you disagree with anyone else's placement, you will have a chance to discuss it at the end. For the first time around, everyone will just place their card where they think it belongs."

I start with a card that says, "is filled with water" I say, 'there is water in a river, in a pond, in a stream and in a lake so I am going to put my card in the middle. Now we will go right around the circle. Please read us your card and then put it where you think it belongs." Sorting Attribute Cards

After everyone has placed his/her card in the Venn Diagram, I say, " are there any cards that you think need to be moved?" I let students tell why they might move a card and then as a group we discuss if the move makes sense. If we all agree to move a card then we replace it in a different place. I keep this discussion brief because students have been sitting for about 15 minutes already.

Summing Up Our Understanding

15 minutes

I want students to sum up their understanding of the differences between ponds and lakes, rivers and streams. I decide to do this with a poetry comparison. Poetry provides an excellent way to make a comparison and it also builds a link between science and writing. Children need to see that subjects are not all isolated, but that we can learn and share using several different disciplines at the same time to complement our understanding. 

The ELA Common Core Standard L 2.5 refers to understanding  word meanings and nuances. This  is important in the poetry comparisons where words of degree, or words with similar meanings can be used to describe slight differences between 2 things. Students might say water in a stream travels fast but in a river it travels faster or quickly. This slight change in the meaning of words helps to explain the difference between a stream and a river.

I say to students, "today we will be writing some poetry about lakes and ponds or rivers and streams. You need to pick one of the pairs and we will write about them. Please start by writing Rivers and Streams or Lakes and Ponds at the top of your paper." I wait for students to copy from the board the title to their poem.

"We are going to write some similes today. A simile is a poem that compares two things. You will be comparing the two things at the top of your paper. You can start with "A river is _______ but a steam is ____________ (big, small). or A lake is _________ and a pond is ________ (big, small). What other comparisons can you make?" (A river flows into a lake or ocean, a stream flows into a river or pond, a river is wide, a stream is narrow, a lake is deep, a pond is not deep etc.) "You can also write it as 2 different lines such as a lake is as big as a monster and a pond is as small as a mouse." I am hoping that students will use some of the attributes we just discussed in order to complete the poems.

I say, "you should try to make at least 4 comparisons and then draw a picture to go with your poem."  I check for understanding and then let students work on their own poems. Student Comparison Poem

If students seem confused, or seem to be stuck mid-lesson, I stop and demonstrate using a hill and a mountain as an example. (I purposely do not use something that students could copy).

A mountain is tall

But a hill is short.

A mountain is as big as the sky

But a hill is as little  as a sandpile.

A mountain is as high as the stars

But a hill is as low as my house.

A mountain takes me hours to climb

But a hill takes me only a moment.

While students are working I circulate around to help students as needed.


5 minutes

Before displaying the poems and pictures for everyone to see, I say to students, "I would like you to take 5 minutes to read your poem to your partners at your table." Students have a chance to share their poems and pictures before we finish today.

In their science journals, I ask students to write down what a river is. I am looking to see if they can use comparisons or terms to show relative size, shape and specific characteristics of the river. I will use these descriptions to assess student understanding of how a river is different from a stream or a pond, or a lake, etc. Journal Entry