October 10, 2012

Weathering, Erosion, or Deposition?

Teaching Tips and a Freebie!

Science is one of my favorite subjects, and I've always been interested in geology and landforms. I remember hiking through the White Mountains of New Hampshire as a child, listening to my father explain the geology of the area. He showed me evidence of glaciers that once covered the area, interesting caves and rock formations, and fossils of sea animals that somehow ended up high in the mountains! I still enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities, and I often wonder how certain features of the earth were formed.

I guess those early experiences are why I enjoy teaching students about landforms of the Earth. Hands-on activities and opportunities to explore nature are especially important in this area of study. One of my favorite projects is to have students work in teams to create islands from salt dough, and each island has to include specific landforms. When students share about their islands with the class, they have to explain how those landforms might have been formed. We read books about weathering, erosion, and deposition, and even take walks outside to observe evidence of these three processes in nature. I show photos of pictures I have taken myself and other pictures I've found on the internet to explain how weathering, erosion, and deposition shaped Earth's surface.

Sorting Out the Processes
Yet even with all of those activities, my students still had trouble remembering the difference between weathering, erosion, and deposition. These concepts are very confusing. To help them practice, I created a sorting activity with examples that students could read and classify into one of the three categories.

They worked in teams because having time to discuss and debate the placement of the cards was really helpful as they grappled with the concepts. When they discussed a card, they had to talk over the action taking place and decide if it was most likely weathering, erosion, or deposition. They took turns so all students had the opportunity to participate equally.

Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition Freebie
If you'd like to use the sorting activity above with your students, you can download this freebie from my Science page on Teaching Resources or from my TeachersPayTeachers store. You'll find complete directions, sorting cards, and definitions of the three terms. I recently updated the cover and gave the inside pages a makeover, so if you used it before, you'll notice the packet looks a little different. I hope this simple activity helps your students remember the difference between weathering, erosion, and deposition. I know it helped mine!

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