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Work of Water    Mystery 1

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In this Mystery, students develop a model of the earth’s surface and use it to discover an important principle about how rivers work.

If you floated down a river, where would you end up?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 6)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 6)

DISCUSS:

Why do you think a river flows?

Come up with some ideas!

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 6)
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DISCUSS: Here’s a map showing real rivers in North America. Do the starting points of the rivers have anything in common? What about where they end?

River Map

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Beginning Exploration (5 of 6)
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Activity Prep

Step 1: Think ahead.

In a classroom, students pair up to make a paper model of a mountain. All the students at a table or pod take turns using a spray bottle to make rain fall on their models. Students at home can work alone and spray the model in a bathtub or outside.

If students want to keep their models, be sure to give the models time to dry before picking them up.

Step 2: Gather supplies and print worksheets.

Each pair of students, or each single homeschool student, needs:

  • 1 “This is ______’s land” printout
  • 2 sheets of 8-½” x 11” paper (you can use paper from the recycling bin as long as one side is blank)
  • a thick, washable/water-soluble marker (ideally dark blue or dark green or some color that looks like water)
  • 4 pieces of tape or blank stickers (we use stickers in the classroom to avoid traffic jams at the tape dispenser)

Each table or pod of students, or each single homeschool student, needs:

  • plastic for covering each table (a trash bag or plastic tablecloth)
  • a spray bottle filled with water
Beginning Activity: Paper Mountains
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Beginning Exploration (6 of 6)
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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.

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Readings

These readings are free with registration on ReadWorks, a nonprofit committed to providing teachers with research-proven, Common-Core-aligned readings. All readings include comprehension questions.

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Online Resource: Exploring Rivers

Streamer, a website created by the US Geological Survey, lets you explore rivers all over the United States.

  • Click on Go To Map, then type your location in the search box on the upper right.
  • Find a nearby river. To see where that river starts, choose Trace Upstream (at the top of the screen), then click on the river.
  • To see where the river ends, choose Trace Downstream (at the top of the screen), then click on the river.
  • For a surprise, search for the Mississippi River and trace it upstream and downstream. The Mississippi is the biggest river in the United States!
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Things to notice: Where does water flow?

Next time it rains, look for puddles. Why are puddles in some places, but not in others? What do you think is different about the places where there are puddles?

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Look at this hillside. Can you see anything that tells you where water has flowed?

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