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Slow and Fast Changes to the Earth's Surface

  • Lesson Plan Creator: Lynne Larson
  • Grades: Grade 5
  • Subjects: Science
  • National/State Fine Arts Standards: Create, Perform/Present, Connect, Respond, Connect/Analyze
  • Tags: Creative Movement

Students will use creative movement to explore the slow and fast changes that happen to the earth's surface, including landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, and erosion.

Learning Objectives/Goals

Working with different describing words, adverbs and adjectives in movement, creating patterns, using different speeds in movement creation, teamwork, collaboration, creative problem solving

Materials Needed

A large, open space, music and a drum.


State class expectations, and talk with students about slow and fast changes to the earth's surface. What are those and what are some words that could describe these changes.
Slow Changes = Erosion
Fast Changes = Volcano eruption, landslide or avalanche, earthquake


Beginning with the Fast Changes to the Earth's surface, have students move through the space using levels, directions and speeds and react to the following words (use one word at a time):
Slippery, Shake, Break, Shift, Explode, Ooze, Collapse
Try using the full body or direct them to use designated body parts, for example: legs that shake or hands that explode, etc.


Split the students into smaller groups. Have them select 4 of the words from the warm-up. They can select any of the four words. Instruct them to create movement in their group for each of the 4 words. Every person in the group should participate in the movement creation and execution. Then put all 4 into a repeating pattern. Take time to show one another and see if students can guess which words were used for each pattern and in what order.


Now for the Slow Changes to the Earth's Surface...using the same groups, have the students make a frozen shape that has positive and negative space, is on a high level and is closer proximity to one another. Using a slow count of 8, have students move only their right arm, dropping it slowly towards the ground, using all 8 counts. The shape should look different after the first "erosion". Try again, this time with one knee dropping slowly towards the ground, still using a slow 8 count. Try one more time, using the head and still a slow 8 count. After 3 rounds, the shape should look very different and will have "eroded" into something completely new. Have each group come up with their own 3 ways to erode from a still shape. Use the slow 8 counts, or make it even slower and use
16 counts for each round.


Ask students to compare the fast changes vs. the slow change of erosion. What did they discover?

Extension to the Lesson

Try putting the fast change pattern and the slow erosion rounds into one big movement sequence. Each group can decide their own order and where in the movement space they would like the sequence to take place. Experiment with different musical accompaniment.

Follow-up Resources

Look for other science related movement lessons in our lesson plan library.


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What People are Saying

The diversity of the dancers really spoke to my students! It was great to see boys and girls dancing, and different races. The high level of engagement was so refreshing and got students excited about thecontent.
This activity was valuable because it helped students make connections between dance, rhythm, healthy lifestyles, and expression. The students were impressed by the talent of the dancers and it was motivating to them.
Opportunities for art and expression are so limited at school but so essential and valuable for all students, especially those who struggle to learn through traditional methods. My Kindergarteners have been dancing since you left!
This was so engaging. I looked around the auditorium and every student was watching. Not one person was talking or distracted
This activity is valuable to teachers and students because it gives them a creative outlet. We need movement in the classroom to engage, energize and deepen student learning.
I got great ideas on how to incorporate movement into math and science lessons.
I loved how you made movement and exercise relatable to the students. The dancers were full of energy and there was very little down time so students stayed engaged.
Our children were captivated by the performance. They listened to you and they were learning without knowing. They usually giggle when bodies are shown and talked about. But the way you presented it was so tastefully done, they now do poses and movement around the room and outside. You brokesome barriers and they took that permission and literally ran with it!