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Shimmering Waterfall

Did you know that the largest waterfall in the world is underwater? Students learn more about the Earth’s waterfalls and create a model of falling water plunging into a pool.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. When investigating the world's landforms, encourage students to find information about waterfalls located around the globe. Students identify the world’s highest waterfall, the largest waterfall, and unusual waterfalls. Look closely at pictures of waterfalls. Study diagrams of waterfall formations, so as to develop an understanding of the geographical terms and the way waterfalls develop.
    2. Students, working individually or in collaborative groups, choose a waterfall to create in 3-D. After covering work areas with recycled newspaper, crush small recycled boxes to make rocks to support your waterfall. Pile up and glue boxes together using Crayola® No-Run School Glue. Air-dry, using a heavy object to hold rocks in place if needed.
    3. Mix white and black Crayola Tempera Paint to color rocks. Paint rocks with Crayola Paint Brushes. Air-dry.
    4. To make cascading water, suggest students use green, blue, white, and purple Crayola Gel Markers. Color stripes of varying widths on white or light blue construction paper. Encourage experimenting with layering and overlapping colors. Tear into thin strips. Arrange and glue some strips so they fall like shimmering water over the rocks. Air-dry.
    5. Students glue their waterfalls to a corrugated cardboard base. Air-dry.
    6. To make a plunge pool, students glue leftover paper strips to cover cardboard base. Mix equal parts of glue and water to make a shiny glaze. Brush over the strips forming the waterfall and the plunge pool (but not the rocks).
    7. To make the foam at the base of your waterfall, children can tear white Hallmark tissue paper into thin strips. Gently crumple. Glue along the base until the entire waterfall base is foamy. Air-dry.
    8. On oaktag, students use Crayola Washable Markers to create additional features such as trees and bushes for their waterfalls. Cut features out with Crayola Scissors and glue in place.
    9. Label waterfall projects with names, the river it is on, and the country/countries and continent in which it is located.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    LA: Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

    MATH: Interpret multiplication as scaling (resizing), by comparing the size of a product to the size of one factor on the basis of the size of the other factor, without performing the indicated multiplication.

    SCI: Ask testable questions about the effects of moving water on the rate of erosion under various conditions and plan and carryout investigations to observe and document the effects.

    SCI: Obtain information about the locations of a variety of Earth’s features and map the geographic patterns that emerge.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Waterfall Watchers by Pam Rosenberg; Extreme Places - The Highest Waterfall by Stuart A. Kallen; How Does a Waterfall Become Electricity? by Robert Snedden

    Students work in teams of two to construct their waterfall selection to scale. What proportions are needed to make it fit in your classroom? Your hand? Discuss with your partner the mathematics involved.

    Students investigate hydroelectric power. How are waterfalls a source of this power? Students create a model of how the energy from falling water is converted into electricity.

    Students create a graphic novel focused on how a waterfall forms. Create characters to assist with the telling of this story, as well as colorful illustrations. If possible, organize a time for students to visit with a class of younger children to share their learning and book on this topic.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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