Gary's Sand Journal

University of California at Berkeley; Delta Education
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Student Guide
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 book allows students to observe illustrations of magnified sand particles with guided dialogue from an earth scientist who discusses sand origins. This book can be used to introduce students to types of sand, explain how earth processes were responsible for their creation, and discuss the work of earth scientists. After reading this book, students may use it as a resource when examining their own sand samples. They could list properties, discuss sand origins, and illustrate samples in a science journal.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Limited free access - Some material is available for viewing and/or downloading but most material tends to be accessible through other means.

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 was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Observations of magnified rock/sand types in text would be enhanced if students could use hand lenses and microscopes to observe their own sand samples and make inferences as to their origins.

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
Students could complete the hands-on activity suggested above and use their observations to compare types of sand illustrated in the text with local sand/soil samples. Class/small group discussion could focus on origination of samples.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Teacher modeling, including the use of a stream table, could demonstrate how water movement causes sediment buildup, or particle movement. This activity could reinforce Part 1 of the DCI. Ice particles or the use of a fan would also demonstrate Part 2 of the DCI.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students could create a cause/effect chart or flip book in order to illustrate the sand/rock sample in one column or page in flip book, then display the cause of its formation in another column or page.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This informational text or trade book allows students to observe sand particles and determine their origins. It explains the effects of water, wind, and ice on particle formation.

  • Instructional Supports: Students are provided with individual "Sand Journals" in which to record data and reflect on their observations.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Teacher can monitor student evidence collection, and determine students' strengths in reaching conclusion, and inferring cause/effect. Teacher may also use student reflections as formative assessment, with an opportunity to gauge any misconceptions held by students.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -