Erosion & Weathering Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Sarah Meers

Sarah has taught elementary education for 10 years and has a master's degree in Education Leadership.

The Earth's land is always changing. Two processes that contribute to those changes are weathering and erosion. In this lesson, you will learn all about these processes, including how they are different and how they affect the planet you call home.

How Are Weathering and Erosion Different?

Have you ever seen a strong wind blow leaves and soil across your yard? Or have you ever felt the water flow against your legs when standing in a river or the ocean? If so, then you have experienced weathering and erosion.

Most people think these two words mean the same thing, but they're actually very different. Weathering is when rocks or minerals are broken apart or wear away, often creating soil. Erosion is when those small pieces of rocks, soil or minerals move.

In the ocean, the moving water breaks the rocks and shells on the ocean floor into smaller pieces through weathering. When the water moves the broken pieces of shells or rocks down the beach, erosion is happening.

Types of Weathering

Rocks and minerals are pretty strong parts of our Earth. You might be asking, 'What in the world could break a rock?' Well, there are two ways Mother Nature breaks apart natural materials in the weathering process:

Chemical Weathering

Chemical weathering happens when there is a chemical reaction that breaks apart the materials. For example, when acid rain continuously falls on rocks or minerals, they eventually break apart as chemicals in the rain react with the particles in the rock. Another example is oxidation--when the natural material loses electrons, causing it to rust. Have you ever left your bike out in the rain and it started to rust? This is a perfect example of chemical weathering through oxidation.

Due to oxidation, the minerals in the metal have rusted. This is a form of chemical weathering.

Mechanical Weathering

Mechanical weathering is caused by the pushes and pulls of nature: Wind, flowing water, moving ice and gravity can all cause rocks and minerals to break down. The Grand Canyon is an example of mechanical weathering. Over millions of years, the flowing water of the Colorado River has shaped the Grand Canyon into the natural wonder that it is today.

The Colorado River has carved out the Grand Canyon through millions of years of flowing through rock.

Means of Erosion

Mother Nature has many ways to move rocks, soil and minerals through erosion. One of the most common ways soil erodes is through rainfall. Have you ever watched a strong rain create a hole as it pushes all of the soil aside to make room for a puddle? This moving of the soil is erosion.

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