Keywords : watershed, wetland, water, lentic and lotic water, plants, insects, fish; Grade Levels : fourth grade; Total Time for Lesson: two sessions, about one hour each; Setting : session one in the classroom, sessions two at a pond or stream


  1. The students will listen to Water Dance by Thomas Locker and discuss the different forms and uses of water.
  2. They will read and complete a comprehension activity using the "Watersheds and Wetlands" booklet from the PSU Cooperative Extension and spend time observing and journaling at a pond or stream.

Materials needed

  • Water Dance by Thomas Locker
  • "What's Dancing in the Water?" journal pages
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Pencils, colored pencils, tape, and clipboard
  • Class set of "Watersheds and Wetlands" from the Cooperative Extension at PSU
  • Class set of the Watersheds Quiz
  • Cooperative Extension lesson plan for the Watersheds & Wetlands Booklet
  • Laminated water plant and animal identification charts
  • Buckets and nets
  • Extra drawing paper

State Standards : 3.5.4 - A and D - Earth Sciences : Know basic landforms and earth history and recognize the earth's different water resources.

Teaching Model : Direct teacher instruction, discussion, and inquiry

Subjects covered : Reading, Writing, and Science

Topics covered : watersheds, wetlands, and plant and animal life in small bodies of water



  1. The teacher will display a piece of chart paper with a T-chart, one side labeled Water Sources and the other side labels Water Uses. Spend 5 minutes brainstorming ideas for each category with the class and record the student's ideas.
  2. Read aloud the book Water Dance by Thomas Locker and add any new ideas to the chart. Ask the students to share ideas about the importance of water in their lives and in the environment. Encourage them to share about their own experiences with water in nature- streams, ponds, the ocean etc.
  3. Pass out copies of the "Watersheds and Wetlands" from the Cooperative Extension at PSU and follow the lesson plan on the Sustainable Forestry Website. After going through the activities from the website, have the class complete the Watersheds Quiz with a partner. Then discuss the topics from the booklet.
  4. Review the vocabulary from the "Watersheds and Wetlands" booklet and explain that as a class they will be going on a field trip to a local water source to observe what they can find in the water and that they will be completing a journal paper to record what they find. (Suggested locations in the State College, PA vicinity could be Spring Creek or Millbrook Marsh).


  1. When the class arrives at the field trip site the teacher must review the behavior expectations for being respectful in nature, as well as the expectations to complete the journal assignment. Each child needs to take a clipboard, magnifying glass, drawing materials, and a journal paper. Buckets and nets should also be made available.
  2. The students should have 20 to 30 minutes to explore the water source and find out what's moving or "dancing" in the water. They need to record their findings on their journal paper- extra paper should be made available in case they need more space. The teacher needs to be available to help use the identification charts and to make sure the students are using appropriate behavior.
  3. When the class returns to the classroom, discuss all of the plant and animal life the students have found. Talk about the life cycle and how things survive in the pond or stream. If you traveled to a flowing water source have the kids brainstorm where the water comes from or where it might go. Then urge them to revisit the water sources listed on the T-chart from Day One and think about where those water sources come from, flow to, and what life may be thriving at each of those places.


The teacher will check for completion of the journal entries and the class will discuss and share what they found on their field trip.


1. Invite the students to create a poster project which shows how the life cycle in the stream or pond thrives.

2. Have everyone in the class participate in creating a mural that includes all of the animals and plants they found in the water source.


1. Locker, Thomas. Water Dance . Florida: Harcourt Inc., 1997.

2. College of Agricultural Sciences and Cooperative Extension. "Watersheds & Wetlands". The Pennsylvania State University (2007).

3. Environment & Ecology Series (Watershed & Wetlands)

4. Fresh Water Invertebrate Guide Example


Lisa McLaughlin, Radio Park Elementary School- SCASD- 4th grade