Learn to protect our dunes and paint with dirt!

Lesson: Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition | What’s the Dirt on Dirt?

Level: 4th Grade

Source: The Living Lab Program at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden


  • SC.4.E.6.4: Earth Structures
  • SC.4.E.6.5: Earth Structures
  • SC.4.L.17.4: Interdependence
  • SC.4.N.1.1: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.N.1.4: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.N.1.6: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.N.1.7: The Practice of Science

Learning Goals:

  • Students will be able define the terms Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition.
  • Students will be able to explain how the processes of weathering, erosion and deposition are related to each other and how they change the shape of Earth’s structures.
  • Students will be able to describe both the negative and positive effects weathering, erosion and deposition have on humans.

Resources for guided learning: Living Lab What’s the Dirt on Dirt Lab Book


  • Lab Books
  • Writing Utensils
  • iPads
  • Microscopes
  • Sieves
  • Soil samples
  • Plastic bin
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • Small fake plants

Activity 1: Students are given lab books and asked to “warm up their brain” with a Word Splash activity on the field trip topic.

Activity 2: Students use Erosion and Deposition bins to create islands with various materials, predict how the materials and layout will affect the erosion and deposition patterns in their bin, and then test their hypothesis by creating waves to splash over their island.

Activity 3: Student groups participate in a scavenger hunt for examples of weathering and erosion around the Garden, recording their discoveries and observations in their lab book and taking photographs with the iPads.

Activity 4: Students regroup and use their recorded observations to identify patterns in location and type of erosion and weathering observed. Students then discuss to create hypothesis based on this data.

Activity 5: Students form small groups and make predictions in their lab books about what they expect to find in soil from different locations (mangrove, botanical garden, potting soil). Students then use sieves to separate and compare and contrast soil samples, observe samples with microscopes, and record their observations in lab book. Students discuss their findings.


You can download and print the lesson plan. Simply click on link.

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