Where is Water Found on Earth?

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SWBAT collaborate as a team to locate forms of water on Earth.

Big Idea

Water on Earth comes in many different forms. We can use QR codes to help us research and learn about them.

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

Watch the 1 minute video for a brief description of the activity and to preview the resources.  

Partner teams will use QR codes to go on a hunt for where water is located on Earth using electronic devices.  They will obtain the information from websites and collect it on a chart.  Then partner teams will collaborate with another partner team to supplement their information.

NGSS Connection

In the NGSS standards, the children are expected to be able to obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth, and that it can be a solid or a liquid.  In this lesson they will be working collaboratively to find that information using QR codes to direct them to appropriate websites.  Once on the websites, they must obtain information using icons and electronic menus, which is a science practice standard.  In the Common Core, one of the writing standards is for children to be an integral part of a shared research and writing project.  Another standard is to gather information from provided sources to answer a question, which is exactly what the children will be doing in this lesson.

Note:  The students will be collecting the information in this lesson, and then writing about it in the next.


  • Where is Water Found on Earth Revised--This is a set of 8 DIFFERENT treasure hunt sheets each with a different QR code, one per team.  
    • In advance, I ran 2-3 Where is Water Found on Earth? recording sheets per team, depending on the number in that team.  I have a class of 20 students, so I have 4 groups of 2 and 4 groups of 3.  I assign a number to each of the teams (#1-8).  I give each member of that team the exact same Where is Water Found on Earth? recording sheet.  The number in the upper left-hand corner of the sheet matches the team number.
  • ipods/ipads--1 per team
  • You will need to have a QR code reader on each device.  I would suggest the FREE QR Reader (ipods/ipads) and QR Code Reader for Androids.  They are simple, easy and quick to install.
  • book titled Icebergs, Ice Caps and Glaciers by Allan Fowler or a similar book
  • Forms of Water notetaking organizer--1 per student

Note:  If you do not want to use ipads/ipods for this lesson, you may also have the students gather their information from books.  (See reflection for more info).

Parent Connection

When I begin this unit on Water and Landforms, I send out this parent letter to help keep them informed and involved in what we are doing in school.  This knowledge helps build a strong communication from school to home.  


5 minutes

I begin the lesson by first posing a question to the students.

Earth is called the blue planet.  Do you know why?  

Are any other planets like Earth?  What makes it so different?  In this unit we are going to be discovering all about Earth and what makes it so unique.  Today we are going to be investigating the blue part of Earth.  We are going to be finding out about the forms of water.

I try to get the kiddos interested in the topic by introducing a question.  It gets their thoughts focused in the right direction and helps guide them.


25 minutes

In the next part of the lesson, the children are going to be researching on the internet to find out about forms of water on our Earth.  The internet research, however, will be well-managed by the use of QR codes.  I love using technology in the classroom!  Technology helps the children learn the scientific concepts and arms them with relevant tech skills needed for the future. Plus when I use technology, the children interest level soars!

First I divide the children up into teams of 2 to 3.  I make sure that I have 1 academically strong student in each group.  I give the team numbers (#1-8) and give each team a different Where is Water Found on Earth sheet, matching the number on the sheet with the team number.  I make sure that each person in that team has a sheet and the number matches their partner.  Keep in mind that each different numbered sheet has a different website that the QR code opens up.

Each team has a different QR code and will be directed to a different website. Therefore, the teams will come up with different answers, creating a variety within the class.  This is done for the express purpose of generating different answers so they can compare their answers during the last part of this lesson.

 For this investigation, you are going to be working in partner teams to find out answers.  You are going on a hunt to find out where water is located on Earth.  You will record the information that you have found on this sheet.  You need to list the forms of water that you found on this table.  There are 3 categories that you need to sort your information into--fresh water (not frozen), frozen water and saltwater.  

In the NGSS standards, the children are expected to be able to obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth, and that it can be a solid or a liquid. This investigation will help lead them to the answers, but let them have some independence, too.

I am going to give you an example to help you figure out what a form of water is to help get us started.  We have the Fox River that is a body of water that is in our town.  I know that a river is a form of water.  Which category would I put river in?

I like to start with an example of something they know about.  Plus this gives them an idea of the type of words that I am looking for.

To do this each team will have a different research sheet.  On each sheet is this little code called a QR code.  You will need to use this code to direct you to a website with information that I would like you to research.  

I am using QR codes to guide them to appropriate websites, since they are too young to just surf the web without any guidance.  The QR codes led them to where I want them to go and it also adds an element of FUN!

To use the QR code, you have to open the app called QR Reader.  Then you hold the ipad over the code and it will detect its information.  It will automatically bring your ipad's screen to the website.  Once the website is on your screen, you can navigate to find the answers that you are looking for.  

Most children have not the experience of using QR codes, so they need some directions on how to use them.  It is pretty cool!

Make sure to share the screen with your partner so you both can see it.  You might want to consider having one person read the information softly aloud.  Since you are working as a partner team, once you have found an answer, make sure to share it with your teammate.  You should both have the same answers written on your papers.

I have the partner teams work together for about 15 minutes (see video clip).  They are recording the information on their sheets as I walk around to answer any questions and to make sure they understand the task.  Working collaboratively is an essential part of life, so this is a great task to help them practice the skill.

To supplement our information, I also had the children look in books to fill out additional ideas of the chart (see video clip).

After time is up, I then have the students combine with another team to share their answers.  I call this Think and Link (click for further information).  The teams are now comprised of four to five students.  I let them share their ideas for 5-10 more minutes.  Again, I am trying to get them lots of experience working with others.  They got their feet wet by starting with one or two teammates, now they have the experience of working with an even larger team (see Think and Link Groups video clip).  

So you can see how my students filled out the chart, click here and here.



10 minutes

First we watch the 2 minute video on the Earth's hydrosphere. It gives a super easy to understand overview.  

When doing the hunt for information, most children know about the typical places where water is found, such as rivers, oceans, and streams.  But many of them do not think of Earth's frozen water.  So I choose to read Icebergs, Ice Caps and Glaciers by Adam Fowler to enlighten them on this subject.  

As I am reading, I ask the students to take notes on the Forms of Water note taking organizer.  They write the name of the form of water in the box (iceberg, ice cap, glacier) where designated and then write a short definition under it (see student sample).  

Here are the definitions we use:

  • iceberg--a large piece of floating ice that has broken off from a glacier
  • ice cap--a thick covering of ice over an area
  • glacier--a large river of ice that moves slowly down a valley

I do not have them take notes on the other water forms since they were just collecting information as to where it is found.  I do not want to put too much on their plate at once.  In the next lesson, they will take notes on the other forms of water.




10 minutes

I pull up a copy of the Where is Water Found on Earth? recording page on the Smartboard.  

I would like our new teams to come up and share their findings.  When each group is sharing, it is going to be your responsibility to listen to what they are saying.  If they tell us about a form of water that you do not have down on your paper, you need to add it.  Since everyone is listening closely, I do not want to hear any repeats of something that we have heard before.  Use your best listening ears, just like Buddy did.

We read a story called Listen, Buddy! (by Helen Lester) at the beginning of the year.  I like to refer to it when I need them to listen carefully.

Then the new teams share their ideas of where water is found on Earth by writing it on our chart and telling a little bit about what they have found out. Other teams need to listen intently and then add to their chart if new knowledge was learned.

We glue their charts in their science notebook.  I collect the notebooks and check to see if the children have filled out what we have gone over on the chart.