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.
- Student certificates
- Materials to Gather Ahead
- Description of units in this concept
- Earth – Connections with other outdoor learning opportunities
- Nature Journal Cover
Descriptions of Topics
Our exploration starts with the sun, the engine that powers Earth’s major systems. We’ll see how and why we experience day and night and the seasons, consider how sunlight supplies the energy for photosynthesis, fuels the water cycle, influences our weather and provides the right conditions for life.
Our study of the geosphere begins with a look at how, over time, the powerful agents of erosion have shaped and formed our landscape. Gravity, water, wind and ice are constantly weathering, wearing away and moving rocks, soil, sand and sediments, and depositing them elsewhere. We’ll also consider the impact humans have on erosion, deposition and our ever-changing landscape.
Each pebble in a stream, each rock in a field tells a story about the earth’s history. We’ll study the earth’s crust, looking at rocks and learning how they’ve been formed and reformed over and over again in the rock cycle. We’ll examine minerals, test their different properties and discover just how important they are to our everyday life.
Air is everywhere around us. We can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but we depend on it for life itself. Experiments will help us discover the properties of air, understand the behavior of these invisible gases, and how important they are to life on our planet.
Birds singing, dogs barking, cars zooming by – we learn a lot about our environment by listening to sounds. Able to cross the boundaries of all four systems, sound vibrations give us vital information about what’s happening in the world around us. By playing with a variety of vibrating objects, we’ll learn how sound waves travel through the ground, water and air.
The earth’s water circulates from the land to the air and back again in a never-ending cycle. In our study of the hydrosphere we’ll learn about water’s unique properties, and how precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, and condensation keep water on the move, circulating between the surface of the earth and the atmosphere.
Building on what we’ve learned about the atmosphere and hydrosphere, we’ll see how unequal heating by the sun creates differences in air temperature and pressure, causing winds to blow and weather systems to form. We’ll also learn to recognize the different kinds of clouds and the weather they bring.
Many aspects of the physical world provide important clues and help guide us as we move from place to place. These landscape features, along with map, compass and other tools, help us orient, navigate and find our way as we explore the world. We’ll learn how both people and animals use the sun, natural landmarks, and the earth’s magnetic field to help recognize where we are, create mental maps of our environment and get to know our Earth.