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White-Water Rapids

Ever go kayaking? It’s a thrilling water sport. Create a river course and imagine navigating white-water rapids!

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. A kayak is a narrow canoe, with only one or two openings where kayakers sit. The kayakers, or paddlers, usually use a paddle with a blade on each end of the handle. Find pictures of kayaks and canoes. Discuss the differences between the two types of watercraft with the class.
    2. Using Crayola® Colored Pencils, students design and draw their own kayak.
    3. Kayakers can paddle on a lake, river, or ocean. White-water rivers are classified according to their difficulty. Rivers may be anything from a Class 1, or easy, to a Class 6, nearly impossible. Students research a white-water river, such as Alaska’s Sustina River, British Columbia’s Stikine River, or South America’s Orinoco River. What would it be like to go kayaking on these rivers? Imagine what the rapids would look like.
    4. Cover the art area with recycled newspaper. Dip Crayola Colored Pencils in white Crayola Washable Paint. On black paper, draw a section of the white-water river. Students should draw the river from the perspective of a kayaker navigating the white-water rapids. What interesting effects can be made? Swirls? Dots? Splashing water? Be sure to label the name and location of the river.
    5. Air-dry the rapids before displaying with the kayak.
  • 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: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

    MATH: Represent and interpret data.

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

    SS: Estimate distance and calculate scale.

    SS: Locate and distinguish between varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, and oceans.

    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.

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

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Canoeing and Kayaking (Know Your Sport) by Yvonne Thorpe; Kayaking and Canoeing: The World's Best Paddling Locations and Techniques (Passport to World Sports) by Paul Mason.

    Students work in small groups or teams of two to map an identified river and its surrounding landforms. Sketch in all country borders, names, and capital cities to assist with locating the river on a world map. Investigate the history of the river. Organize research into an electronic format for presentation to classmates.

    Working in teams of two, students compose an original short story focused on an kayak adventure. Students identify the river they are navigating, time of year, the adventure, etc. Provide an illustration to accompany the short story.


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