Out Teach
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Primary
  • Cause and Effect
  • ELA
  • Evidence
  • Ifthen
  • Main Idea and Details
  • Nonfiction
  • Out Teach
  • Reading
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Erosion Text 4th-- Out Teach

    Erosion Text 4th-- Out Teach


    Students will read the provided complex text about erosion and use the outdoor space to verify or deny the content of the text in the real-world setting.

    Background For Teachers

    Out Teach logo

    Erosion (as defined in the text) will look different at each site and it's possible that observable phenomena may look like erosion and be caused by something else. Any circumstance works for students since they are focusing on using what exists outside to affirm or deny what they have learned from the text. So, if the text spells out signs of erosion and the students do not find these signs, it is their job to explain why the site does not have an erosion problem. The text is complex, and fourth grade students may struggle to make inferences from the text, but the outdoor exploration will begin to give them experience in understanding how erosion works.

    Key Vocabulary

    • Erosion

    • Evidence

    • Canyons

    • Valleys

    • Pollutants

    • Contaminating

    • Exposed

    • Slope

    Guiding Question

    What evidence can you find that supports or denies the existence of erosion in the outdoor classroom?


    Ask students to do a quick observational walk in the outdoor space. Have them jot down in their journals: 3 things they see, two things they hear, one thing they can touch, and one thing they smell.

    After giving students a few minutes to make observations, call them together and remind them that science often starts with making observations and that scientists try to explain those observations. Let them know they will be given time to explore and make more observations after reading a short passage about erosion. 


    Allow students time to read the passage and begin exploring as soon as they have finished. 

    Differentiation Note: The passage should be challenging for all students. Some students may require additional support including reading with a teacher or with a reading partner. Resist the urge to fill in missing prior knowledge for students so that they can enhance their understanding through exploration. Questions and misunderstandings can be addressed after the exploration.

    Have students explore the outdoor classroom area looking for signs of erosion. Have them draw and label what they notice in their journal and encourage them make connections to the text. 

    Management Note: Be sure to allow students the ability to explore areas that include signs of erosion or "erosion-like" signs.

    Guiding Questions: 

    • What is erosion?

    • How did the text say you could spot erosion?

    • Do you think erosion poses a problem for our school?

    • Should our school do something to limit erosion?

    Differentiation Note: Advanced students should be able to label drawings with specific vocabulary used in the text. Struggling students may need to focus on one or two specific things to look for from the text and could turn and talk with a partner instead of labeling. 


    Call students to gather around the whiteboard or chart paper using a loud call signal. 

    Ask students about the different signs of erosion that they noticed. Use any possible opportunity to have students dialogue with each other before adding any comments.

    Sample questions:

    • Did anyone else notice that sign?

    • How quickly do you think the erosion we are seeing is caused?

    • Does anyone think that what you observed could've been caused by something other than erosion?

    • How can we know that is a sign of erosion? (refer to text)

    • Do you think erosion poses a problem for our school or any local habitat?

    Ask students about specific vocabulary from the text: sloped, pollutants, contaminate, exposed, landscape materials.

    Ask questions from the text:

    • How can erosion cause damage to buildings?

    • How can erosion hurt wildlife?

    • How might humans cause erosion or make it worse?

    • Why do surfaces like concrete and asphalt increase the chance of erosion?


    Have students work in pairs or teams.

    Ask students to come up with some ways that erosion problems around their school could be fixed or improved and have them record their solutions in their journals. This record could include sentences or diagrams with labels. 


    Ask several students to share their solutions for erosion and ensure through questioning that they fully understand the concept of erosion. 

    Extensions and Connections

    For additional levels on text on erosion, you can use the 3rd or 5th grade version of this lesson.

    Students can further research erosion and solutions for erosion.

    Students can conduct science experiments to determine the rate of erosion that may occur on different surfaces. 

    Students may be able to visit local waterways to see the wildlife that can be affected by erosion. 


    Erosion Text

    Many of the land features on Earth have been created by erosion, including rivers, canyons, and valleys. Erosion is a process that happens when wind or water wash away soil over time. This process can cause problems for plants that need the soil to survive. Erosion can wash away the ground causing damage to human-made structures like roads and buildings. It can also wash pollutants into rivers, lakes or the ocean which can hurt fish, marine wildlife, and contaminate drinking water.  Signs of erosion can include exposed plant roots as well as sinking or cracking cement and asphalt. You may also notice an area of ground that has been stripped of grass or other plant cover or landscape materials moved where they don't belong such as mulch that has washed over the sidewalk.  You are more likely to see erosion in areas that are sloped downhill, but erosion can also happen in flat areas too. You will likely see more damage from erosion in places where there is nothing in the way to slow water down when it rains. Surfaces like roads and sidewalks can increase the threat of erosion while planting trees can reduce the destructive forces that erosion can bring.

    Career Connections

    The IF/THEN collection is the world’s largest free digital library of authentic and relatable images and videos of women STEM innovators.  


    Shyla Raghav is a climate change leader. She is one of few minority women working toward a climate change strategy in the United States. 


    Have your students watch this video for inspiration about pursuing STEM careers, and read this profile to learn more about Shyla's story.


    Thank you for creating a culture shift in how the world perceives women in STEM.