Water Erosion Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach your students about water erosion with this lesson plan. Students will read an informational text defining the term and explaining the human impact and the four types of water erosion. Activities, discussion questions and a quiz are included to help your students walk away with a solid understanding of concepts.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define water erosion
  • explain the four types of water erosion
  • discuss and describe human impact on water erosion


1 - 1.5 hours


  • Copies of the lesson Water Erosion Lesson for Kids, one for each student
  • Chart paper and marker
  • Eyedroppers
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Small aluminum or foam trays, one for each student (consider asking students to bring one from home.)
  • Paint tray liners, one for each lab group
  • Empty small plastic water bottles, three for each lab group
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Small rocks
  • Water

Key Vocabulary

  • Water erosion
  • Inter-rill erosion
  • Rill erosion
  • Gully erosion
  • Streambank erosion

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.1

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3

Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.


  • Engage students with the topic by giving them a small amount of sand and soil, a small tray, eyedropper and water and allowing them to drop water onto the sand and soil while observing the effects. Have them draw pictures of their experiment, noting the difference between effects from dropping water at a higher distance or in a stream, for example.
  • After about ten minutes of exploration have students clean up then share their experiences as a whole group. Discuss results and ask students to draw conclusions.
  • Tell students they participated in a type of water erosion. Distribute or share the lesson Water Erosion Lesson for Kids and read the first section 'What is Water Erosion?' together.
  • Label chart paper 'Water Erosion' and define the term with students.
  • Now label the chart paper 'Types of Water Erosion' and read the section '4 Types of Water Erosion.'
  • Record each type on the chart paper along with a sketch to support visual learners.
  • Have students look at their sketches from the opening experience and determine what types of water erosion they created, supporting their answers with evidence from the lesson.
  • Ask:
    • What happens in inter-rill erosion?
    • What does rill erosion create?
    • Which type of water erosion is caused by runoff?
    • How is streambank erosion created?
  • Now read the section 'Humans and Water Erosion' with students. Discuss:
    • What human activities have impacted water erosion?
    • What are the effects of humans on water erosion?
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' together and take the quiz as a whole group to check understanding.

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