Water, sunlight, wind, rocks, erosion all shape the ever-changing landscape in which we live. Throughout the year, we will study the physical environment that supports life on Earth and the forces that affect them over time. Children will explore the interactions between the living and non-living components of the world around us. Students will also practice important skills including: listening actively, asking questions, making and recording observations, and communicating findings.
Vermont's The Universe, Earth, and the Environment Standards 7.15, 7.13
New Hampshire's Earth Space Science Standards ESS 1, ESS 2
Descriptions of Topics
Sunlight and Shadow
The Sun makes it possible for life to exist on Earth. Sunlight and shadow, wind and weather, day and night, all these are aspects of a study of sun power. We'll look at how we experience day and night and the different seasons and consider how living things are affected by these changes.
Imagine a sand dune being shaped by the wind or a stream bank carved by rushing water. The powerful agents of erosion constantly alter our landscape. We'll look at how gravity, water, wind and ice shape and change the world around us and what impact we as humans have on these processes of erosion and deposition.
Rocks and Minerals
Each pebble in a stream, each rock in a field tells a story about the earth's history. What were the processes that formed and shaped the rocks in our area? In this unit, we'll look at different rock types and learn what these can tell us about the geologic history of a place. Different kinds of rocks have certain properties that make them suited for a variety of different purposes. We'll find out just how important rocks are as a natural resource as we look around our home and school at the variety of rock products we use every day.
The Nature of Sound
Birds singing, dogs barking, cars zooming by - we learn a lot about our environment by listening to sounds. But how are sounds made and interpreted? We'll learn about sound waves and how they travel as we play with a variety of vibrating objects. Outside we'll listen to find out what sounds can tell us about the world in which we live.
- (Nature's News - The Nature of Sound)
- (Sound - Background)
- (Sound - Activities )
- (Sound - Puppet Show)
- (Teaching outline)
- (Teacher resource page)
Blanket of Air
Air is everywhere around us. We can't see it, taste it or smell it, but we depend on it for life itself. We'll discover some of the properties of air and consider how these affect living things. Take a deep breath and look for signs of air around you.
The Earth's water circulates from the land to the air and back again in a never-ending cycle. Where on Earth do we find water and how does it move from place to place? We'll explore the properties of this precious liquid and learn how evaporation, transpiration, and condensation keep water on the move.
What we do outside is so often dependent on the weather. But how can we know what type of weather to expect? By measuring the direction and force of the wind and learning to identify different types of clouds, we can make a fairly accurate forecast of the weather. Plus, what could be more fun than lying on your back watching the wind blow clouds across a spring sky?
Finding Your Way
What cues from our surroundings do animals, including humans, use to orient themselves in the natural world? In this unit we will look at how sounds, smells, and natural landmarks help us recognize where we are and allow us to create a mental map of our environment. We use this information to guide us as we move from place to place. For centuries people have also used the Earth's magnetism to help them determine direction, and we will practice using an orienteering compass to follow a course.