Rivers and Streams Activities: Grades 3-5

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How Do Other Animals Deal with Garbage? (3-5 Science)

Students will discover how ants and other animals deal with waste materials they themselves have created. Split the students into groups that will each build an ant house, which will contain white sand and 2 cm3 of sugar solution. The houses should either be placed in a dark area or covered by black construction paper because ants prefer darkness. Each group will then add several dozen ants to the ant house. The students should add small amounts of food and garbage to the houses, and then wait to see which of the materials are eaten. A discussion could follow to try and discover why the ants ate what they did, and what they did with the garbage.

— Kent Wilkinson, West Valley Junior High School, Yakima WA


Salmon Life Cycle (3-5 Science)

Take a large rope and tie several smaller ropes to it. The larger rope represents the Columbia River and the smaller ropes represent its tributaries.

You will also need several small containers (baby food jars) containing scented cotton balls. We have used a variety of scents including cinnamon, lemon, almond pepper and others you can find in your spice cupboard. Color code clothes pins to match two differently scented jars smelled in a specific order. A scented jar is placed at the mouth of a tributary and another placed at the specific spawning site along the tributary. Group the students in pairs. Blindfold one student to represent the salmon swimming up the Columbia River to spawn. The second student represents a biologst. The biologist picks up a clothes pin and a card. The clothes pin and the card are attached to the student representing the salmon. The biologist will allow the salmon to smell the two scents indicated by the colors on the clothes pin.The card will mark the salmon a male or female.

As the salmon travels up the Columbia River the biologist will open scented jars along the way. The salmon searches for its spawning site based on the two scents the biologist presented at the beginning of this activity. When the salmon reach their spawning site, have students check clothes pins to identify male and female surviving salmon. This is a great life cycle activity. It also reinforces the percentages of survival in a real way that students can experience themselves.

— Randy Davis, East Valley School District, Yakima WA


Is Trash Really for the Birds? (3-5 Science)

Students will be able to discover how birds are affected by positive and negative waste. In groups, the students dismantle bird nests using forceps while separating the materials into natural and man-made piles. The students can discuss how they believe the birds find those materials, and if they believe the man-made materials are harmful or beneficial to the birds.

— Kent Wilkinson, West Valley Junior High School, Yakima WA


Cultural Taboos (3-5 Social Studies)

First the teacher explains that taboos are considered things one should not do in a specific culture. Students should then identify taboos that exist in their own culture. Then the students break up into groups of about 4-5 and create their own culture and the taboos that would govern their behavior. Without revealing these taboos, let the groups interact and see how the “foreigners” perform the host group’s taboos. Follow the activity with a discussion of how the groups felt when the foreigners performed the taboos and what they could have done to remedy the situation.

— Ruth Rigby, LeHigh Senior High School, LeHigh Acres FL


Pen Pals (3-5 Language Arts)

Have the students develop a partner group at another school, possibly in another country. This bridges gaps for kids and helps widen perceptions of other cultures. To write to students speaking another language, a translator will be needed. The teacher or students can locate an interpreter by contacting the local consulate member of the community, or local college or university. Other ideas may include exchanging materials which represent the classes and their watershed such as photographs, cultural artifacts or a collage of classroom activities. Discuss how perceptions of the other culture has changed and what the similarities and differences are.

— from GREEN Cross Cultural Partners Activities Manual


Salmon Mobile (3-5 Fine Arts)

First, have students learn to identify the body parts of a salmon. Then, provide the students an opportunity to draw salmon using an overhead, opaque projector or free hand. They can make the salmon three dimensional by stapling two salmon together around the outer edge, leaving a small opening to stuff with paper scraps. After the salmon is stuffed, finish stapling it together. Attach a fishing line to the center of the salmon. Hang the salmon at different heights in the classroom to give the room the appearance of being in the middle of a school of salmon on their way to the spawning grounds.

Have students write about where their salmon has been and where it is going.

— Randy Davis, East Valley School District, Yakima WA
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