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Acid Rain Viewfinder

What is happening to limestone and marble buildings around the world? Show the effects of acid rain in a viewfinder.

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. What does rain do? It waters the Earth, but also drops acid. When there is so much pollution (sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) in the atmosphere that the environment can’t neutralize it, the acid leaches into rain, snow, and even fog. Have students research the major causes of acid rain and how they can be reduced. Find out what acid rain does to forests, bodies of water, and limestone and marble buildings (such as the U.S. capitol’s columns and other world landmarks).
    2. Students construct a viewfinder. Here is one way to show scenes "before" and "after" acid rain. Cut out a box in the center of a recycled foam tray with Crayola® Scissors. Cut thin cardboard the same size and shape of the tray. Cover ONLY the sides (not the middle) with Crayola School Glue. Glue to the tray. Posterboard will slide across the hole. Air-dry the viewfinder.
    3. Show effects of acid rain. With Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, students trace around the boxes twice on posterboard. Cut posterboard to size so it will slide through the opening. Make as many boxes as you need. Inside the first box, illustrate a building, forest, or other setting with Erasable Colored Pencils. In the second box, draw the same setting during a rainstorm. Use the eraser to show acid rain damage. Decorate the front of the viewfinder, too.
    4. Find solutions! Give a slide show on the effects of acid rain to other students. Together, brainstorm ideas of ways to help eliminate acid rain. What can you do?
  • Standards

    LA: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

    LA: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

    LA: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    MATH: Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SCI: Formulate a question that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, school laboratory, or field with available resources.

    SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.

    SS: Explore and speculate about social and economic effects of environmental changes and crises resulting from the phenomena such as floods, storms, and drought.

    SS: Consider existing uses and propose and evaluate alternative uses of resources and land in home,school, community, the region, and beyond.

    SS: Explore causes, consequences, and possible solutions to persistent, contemporary, and emerging global issues, such as pollution and endangered species.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

    VA: Know how the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Student groups can chart the acidity and alkalinity of everyday items (marking normal rain acid level at 5.6). With litmus paper, test rainwater in your area. Identify possible landmarks made of marble or limestone that might be vulnerable to damage. Document your findings in a spreadsheet. Photograph landmarks that fit this exercise for inclusion in a presentation. Compose a written summary of the data documented in the team's spreadsheet and include these results in a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation. Upload your presentation to a classroom computer for viewing.

    Half of the acid rain deposits in Eastern Canada originate from United States emissions. Discuss the saying, "Everyone lives downwind." Generate a written list of possible repercussions of "…liv(ing) downwind" and discuss with classmates how we, as citizens of a global society, can begin to practice creating a smaller carbon footprint for ourselves as well as our global neighbors. This list can be formatted into a PowerPoint slide, as part of a bulletin, or as a full scale bulletin board. Such a display can be used to spark a student-led campaign to educate both students and faculty about the actions that can be taken to reduce acid rain.


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