Erosion and Deposition

27 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT recognize the effects of water erosion on land

Big Idea

Students will carry out an investigation on erosion on erosion to understand the effects it has on changing Earth's surface.

Lesson Overview

5e Lesson Plan Model

Many of my science lessons are based upon and taught using the 5E lesson plan model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This lesson plan model allows me to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and strategies for students.  With multiple learning experiences, students can gain new ideas, demonstrate thinking, draw conclusions, develop critical thinking skills, and interact with peers through discussions and hands-on activities.  With each stage in this lesson model, I select strategies that will serve students best for the concepts and content being delivered to them.  These strategies were selected for this lesson to facilitate peer discussions, participation in a group activity, reflective learning practices, and accountability for learning.

Unit Focus

The Earth's Changing Surface unit focuses on some processes that change Earth's surface slowly, over a long period of time, or abruptly. In order for students to develop an understanding that the surface is constantly changing, they take part in a variety of guided inquiries geared towards scaffolding this understanding.  In the first part of the unit, students explore the structure of the Earth and processes that cause changes to it. These lessons include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, physical and chemical weathering, erosion and deposition. They need to develop an understanding of these processes and how they change the Earth's surface for the second part of the unit which focuses primarily on minerals, rocks, and the rock cycle. Students apply their understanding of these processes as they investigate the formation of rocks and the cycle of changes they go through in a lifetime.

Lesson Synopsis

The Erosion, Deposition, and Prevention lesson provides students opportunity to develop an understanding of the effects of erosion on land over a period of time. Students take part in carrying out an investigation using a land model to simulate water eroding land away. They observe its effect on land and later carry out an investigation to prevent erosion on land from happening. As a class, we discuss and define erosion and deposition. I have students record their understanding on a concept map graphic organizer which serves as a reference sheet for our future lessons on rocks and the rock cycle. I also incorporate a previously learned term: weathering, and make the connection that all three processes weathering, erosion, deposition contribute to rock formation. To help students remember, we take part in a vocabulary chant where students recite the words and meanings while using hand motions/actions to represent the meaning of the word. At the end of the lesson, students write a reflection in their interactive notebook about the erosion and deposition investigations. This is collected and used as a formative assessment piece.

Next Generation Science Standards  

This lesson will address the following NGSS Standard(s): 

ESS2 Earth's Systems

Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes land forms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the land forms to determine patterns of weather.

I address this standard with my fifth grade because the elementary school's within my district do not formally teach science; therefore my students enter middle school (fifth grade) with a limited science background.  By engaging students with activities to support this NGSS standard, I am providing with them experiences that will provide them a foundation  for later lessons involving minerals, rocks, soil, and plants.

Why do I teach with this lesson?

I teach the Erosion, Deposition, Prevention lesson to help students develop a understanding that the Earth's surface, the crust, is shaped by different processes like erosion and deposition. Students examine the effects of water erosion by observing water move away from one area of land to another. From this activity, students and respond to questions that help process their experience and develop reasoning for changes made to the Earth's surface. Their observations and reflection are used in a guided discussion, recorded onAs a class, we discuss and define erosion and deposition using a concept map graphic organizer which serves as a reference for our future lessons on rocks and the rock cycle.

 and further inquiry of erosion and deposition. I find it important to provide guided inquiries that build their vocabulary and understanding of concepts in order to facilitate scientific thinking for future inquiry lessons related to Earth's Changing Surface. These experiences provide them a foundation that will support their learning in later lessons involving processes that change the Earth slowly and rapidly. 

 Scientific & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering practices

2.)  Developing and Using Models: Students examine the effects of water erosion using a land model.

3.) Planning and Carrying Out Investigations:  Students carry out an investigation to observe the effects of water on land.  Through this investigation they analyze the outcome and make observations to recreate a model with Earth materials that limits or prevents erosion from happening.

 8.) Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information:  Using the concept vocabulary graphic organizer, students use their obtained information on erosion and deposition to create a model preventing erosion.

Crosscutting Concepts

The Erosion, Deposition, and Prevention lesson correlates to other interdisciplinary areas.  This Crosscutting Concepts includes

2.) Cause and Effect:  Students conduct an investigation to make observations on evidence of erosion on land. The continue with another investigation to 

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems


Importance of Modeling to Develop Student Responsibility, Accountability, and Independence 

Depending upon the time of year, this lesson is taught, teachers should consider modeling how groups should work together; establish group norms for activities, class discussions, and partner talks.  In addition, it is important to model think aloud strategies.  This will set up students to be more expressive and develop thinking skills during the activity.  The first half of the year, I model what group work and/or talks “look like and sound like.”  I intervene the moment students are off task with reminders and redirecting.  By the second and last half of the year, I am able to ask students, “Who can give of three reminders for group activities to be successful?” Who can tell us two reminders for partner talks?”  Students take responsibility for becoming successful learners.  Again before teaching this lesson, consider the time of year, it may be necessary to do a lot of front loading to get students to eventually become more independent and transition through the lessons in a timely manner.


For time management purposes, I use “lab rats ” where each student has a number on the back of his or her chair, 1,2,3,4 (students sit in groups of 4)and displayed on the board.  For each activity I use lab rats, I switch up the roles randomly so students are experiencing different task responsibilities which include:  Director, Materials Manager, Reporter, and Technician.  It makes for smooth transitions and efficiency for set up, work, and clean-up.  


5 minutes

To start off today's lesson, I recap what we have learned so far about how Earth's surface is constantly changing and connect where we are going in today's lesson by stating land can be worn away with wind and water.

I introduce today's lesson with the erosion video.  

This video is just under three minutes and provides students a glimpse of erosion and its effects on land.  It compares it to the idea of eating a lollipop which many students relate to, by explaining how a lollipop is worn away as a person sucks it.  In addition, it uses an animated character to  narrate the idea of erosion. While the video is playing, I walk around the room monitoring students attention and reactions.

Once the video ends, I direct students to a turn and talk discussion with their elbow partner on the details presented about erosion in the video and to think of a time they have seen the effects of erosion in the world around them.  I remind them of our turn and talk norms While the students are discussing, I am walking around listening. 

After turn and talk, I get the quick pick bucket and select students to share aloud one thing he or she discussed with his or her partner. I want students to make connections about land wearing away over time.


20 minutes

Setting Up the Inquiry

After our video discussion, I ask a student to read the standards board aloud to the class: "Today, we will examine how erosion slowly changes the earth's surface by conducting a simulation and observing the effects." I add on saying, "this model will help us have a better understanding on how and why land changes." 

I instruct students to open their interactive notebook and on the right side, paste in the the task card. We review the procedure on the card and identify Lab Rats' roles for each part of the task. Once we are clear, I instruct the materials manager to retrieve the materials tray (trays include: 1 foil tray, sand, water, and a measuring cup.) 

Students are creating a model of a hill by using sand.  Once they form the hill, ¼ cup of water is poured over it.  They are observing the hill as the water runs down it.  Through their observations, I want them to recognize the effects the water has on the land and the changes that occur.

Guided Inquiry

Students begin writing a prediction on the output page as what will happen when water is poured on the mound of sand. I call a few students to share their predictions. Once predictions are written and shared, I remind student to record their observation by drawing and labeling a diagram on the output page after observing water run down the soil.  When all expectations are set, I have the director initiate the procedure and remind the technician to be ready for monitoring the measuring of water. 

While students are following through the procedure and activity, I walk around and monitor groups. I am looking to see if students are noting observed changes to the hill's shape and size in the diagram they are drawing. Students continue the erosion simulation until all steps of the procedure have been completed.  



15 minutes

Guided Discussion

After observing the effects of water on land, I bring students attention to the board where the words erosion and deposition are written. I lead them into a discussion on them by connecting the terms to their investigation. 

I begin by asking them to recall their observations of the simulation they just performed. I ask them, "describe what happened to the land when water was poured over it and moved down the hill."  They share that as water moved down the hill, some of the sand moved with it to the bottom. I explain what they observed is an example of erosion and define the word on the board:

*Erosion: the movement of sediments or other materials from one location to another.

Then I ask, "Where does the sand that was worn away go?" I want them to make the connection that the surface of the land (hill) changed and that sand (land) doesn't just disappear. After our discussion, I ask students to reexamine their tray as I explain that the sand that moved from one part of the hill and placed in a new location is called deposition. I write the term deposition on the board and define it.

*Deposition: the dropping of sediments, materials, or broken rock in a new location.

At this point, I hand out a concept map to help students further distinguish each word. My students organize their observations from the simulation and definition details from the board about erosion and deposition by writing them on the concept map.

Through further discussion I say to my students, "we have explored how water changes the land, now lets think of other elements that could also change the land.  I want you to think back to elements that weathered rocks into tiny pieces called sediments." I instruct students to turn and talk with their group members for a couple minutes.  I want them to use their prior knowledge to make the connection that these same natural elements contribute to changing the Earth's surface. When we reconvene, student reporters share out their thoughts.  Through the groups shares and discussion, we note other elements to include wind, glaciers or ice, and gravity.  

Reviewing Processes that Change Earth's Surface

Once we finish our discussion, I restate the processes we have learned up to this point: weathering, erosion, and deposition and that they all contribute to changing the Earth's surface in some way.  To help them remember the differences and make the connection between all three words I engage them into a chant. This chant helps my students remember the differences which will help them apply them to learning about the rock cycle in the next few lessons.

I found this chant on youtube and viewed it being performed in many different ways; however, I selected this version because incorporated various learning styles: kinesthetic, auditory, visual/spatial, and verbal, which supports the many different types of learning styles within my classroom.




15 minutes

As we gain an understanding of the word, erosion and deposition. We discuss how erosion can change the Earth's surface in way that causes destruction to homes, buildings, living areas.  We talk about the effects it has on the environment and its impact on living organisms and other land structures.

Applying What We Have Learned

I have my students think back to the land model they created earlier in the lesson and how it changed when water erosion took place.  I want them recognize some effects of erosion wears too much land away, so we need to find ways of preventing it. 

I start by posing to the students, "Do you think there is a way to prevent or lessen the effects of erosion from happening? My intention is for students to think about the effects water had on the sand (land model) in the first part of this lesson and consider other ideas that may reduce the effects of erosion

I explain to the whole class, "we are carrying out an investigation to determine if we can find ways to prevent erosion.  We are using naturally made materials (sticks, rocks, leaves, etc) that can be found outside." I have students use these items from nature because often used in preventing erosion in different areas.

I hand out an investigation card to each group and I ask each materials manager to retrieve a tray of materials that includes: twigs, leaves, rocks, sticks, plants. I guide the class in setting up their sand mounds again for this part of the lesson. I have the director lead the group into following directions.

I remind the technician to again monitor the measurement of water and the reporter to be ready at the end of the investigation to share.  As students carry out this investigation, I am walking around monitoring groups to make sure everyone is on task and actively participating.

During this investigation, I want student to use their models to determine ways of preventing erosion in the real world.  Once the investigation is completed, I ask each groups lab rats reporter to share their experience and what their groups observed and determined about preventing erosion.



10 minutes

After examining the erosion prevention models that they created, I pose the questions:

●  How did the second model work in reducing erosion?

●  How can people stop erosion from happening?

After stating these questions, I ask students write their responses in their interactive notebook. Students write about sticks and trees absorbing some of the water to slow the process down, planting trees so the roots will keep the soil in place, and building up stone walls so land won't erode away.  I use this as a formative assessment to identify students understanding of erosion.

Some of my students' responses were surprising to me because we have not started our unit on plants yet, so their examples of planting trees to have roots hold soil was astonishing. It is an indication that they are using what they already know about plants and connecting it to what they are learning about for Earth's changing surface.