Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition

Moira Whitehouse PhD
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Illustration , Image/Image Set , Informative Text
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This set of 31 Weathering and Erosion slides depict landform changes that occur due to the natural processes of weathering and erosion. Captions explain/define the different causes of weathering and erosion (ice, wind, water, and vegetation). Before and after photographs of United States locations (such as Mt. St. Helens) provide contrast between processes that may occur slowly or very quickly. These slides also illustrate the beauty and uniqueness of landforms that weathering and erosion may produce. The concept of deposition is introduced using labeled diagrams that illustrate movement of weathered materials.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

4-ESS2-1 Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.

Clarification Statement: Examples of variables to test could include angle of slope in the downhill movement of water, amount of vegetation, speed of wind, relative rate of deposition, cycles of freezing and thawing of water, cycles of heating and cooling, and volume of water flow.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single form of weathering or erosion.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
These slides could be used to probe student understanding pertaining to weathering and erosion. In order to assess prior knowledge, teacher might choose to show photographs depicting weathering and erosion without the captions. Students could explain what changes they think have occurred in the photographs, providing evidence for their choices. Students could discuss ways in which these processes can provide either constructive or destructive changes in the landforms affected. Often, students may feel that weathering and erosion cause only destructive changes. Students could locate the United States' famous landforms depicted in slides using United States maps. For example, students could look at the Mississippi or Colorado River Deltas. This type of mapping activity could lead to a class discussion focusing on types of weathering/erosion/deposition prominent in those areas and why they occur.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
When students have observed the slide presentation, they might illustrate examples of depicted landforms in their journals, then illustrate changes that occur, labeling types of weathering and diagramming movement caused by erosion. They might also display their illustrations without labels, having other students observe those illustrations, identify type of changes that occurred, giving evidence for their choices. As mentioned in PE above, students could view photographs from slide show without captions, in order to construct their own explanation of the observed relationships.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In order to fully include the Core Idea, students might discuss/research types of living things native to area of weathering and erosion, determining how changes in landforms might affect those living things. Questions might include- What would animal and plant life have to do in order to survive if their habitats have changed due to the effects of weathering and erosion? How might these changes be both destructive and constructive to the animal/plant population?

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students could focus on before/after examples displayed in the slide presentation.(Examples could include Mount St. Helen's photographs, and newer photos of the Old Man in the Mountain in New Hampshire.) Students could discuss/journal their explanations for the changes that occurred. Teacher could guide student discussion to include types of weathering that may differ for each photograph.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The resource does provide opportunities for students to make sense of phenomena. Its representations support appropriate and current scientific information as well as grade-appropriate information. Students are able to use this resource as a point of reference, with teacher modeling, to express and justify the ideas that have been represented with the slides. While three dimensional learning strategies are not explicitly stated or modeled in this resource, it would not be difficult for teachers to implement those strategies, using the slides as a base for learning.

  • Instructional Supports: Instructional supports are not prominent in this resource, although captions are included with slide photographs. However, as stated above, it would not be difficult for teachers to use this resource as a basis for learning. The resource provides excellent picture support for ELL students. The captions are informative and grade appropriate. It uses representations that are accessible and unbiased for all students. Teachers could use tips provided in PE, Core Ideas, and Practices to ensure that students have the opportunity to observe types of weathering and erosion, giving evidence for the changes they create. Students requiring enrichment exercises could extend the map skill activity in a research project targeting tourist areas in the United States. Many of the most visited natural sites in the United States are popular due to the weathering and erosion that have taken place in their locations.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Teacher could use these images to probe students' knowledge (formatively or summatively) through questions pertaining to the causes and effects of weathering and erosion observed in the slides. Slide photographs and captions might be printed separately, having students match photos with appropriate captions. Students might also illustrate their own before or after drawings, using slide photograph samples. Photographs could be placed on maps in areas where their illustrations of weathering/erosion are most likely to occur. Students could use the presentation as a model for their own presentation's communicating their own understanding through captions, illustrations, animations or other media. Questions listed at the end of the slide presentation could be answered by students in a journal writing activity. Students could also use the slides (without captions) at the end of the lesson to explain (orally/written) what they have learned . They could construct explanations about the process sharing how they thought the landforms were created.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: While slides are presented on this website, student interactivity is not a part of the resource.