Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) Model Lesson - Wetlands Investigation

SEEK Updated
Resource Types: 

These model lessons were created by teachers participating in the Minnesota Department of Education's 2011-13 project, "Integrating Environmental and Outdoor Education into Grades 7-12" with funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Title of lesson: Wetland Investigation

Content area: Science
Grade level: 5
Learning objective: Students will know the parts of a wetland and how they work together to filter water.
Standard or benchmark addressed:

Description of lesson and how it is adapted for EOE:
1. Students visit a pond and a wetland near the school. Students write down all living and non-living elements they see.
2. Students predict the niche of each element of the wetland they noted.
3. Students read the information on Wetlands and take notes on why they are important.
4. Students read the Magic School Bus on Water Sanitation.
5. Students compare the parts of a wetland to the parts of a water cleaning station.
6. Students build a model to replicate each part of a wetland in a clear plastic tub.
7. Students note how their wetland model will clean water.
8. Students place an eye dropper in their wetland against the plastic.
9. Students add one teaspoon of red food coloring and observe what happens immediately, after five minutes, after thirty minutes and after twenty four hours.
10. Students compare how their model cleaned the dye to how water is cleaned in a wetland.

Teacher's role (i.e. specific activities and instructional strategies):
Wetland Field Investigation

  • Lead students to wetland or wetland, point out points of interest in the area.
  • Ask leading questions which make students think about the parts of a wetland and how they help one another.
  • Check that students have documented the living and non-living parts of a wetland.
  • Reading Materials

  • Hand out the MN Wetland packet, chapter 3 Minnesota Waters-Wetlands and Groundwater. Instruct students to read it as a group, to note the main ideas and supporting details of each section with a heading.
  • Discuss the different parts and importance of a wetland with the class when everyone has completed their notes.
  • Read Magic School bus to the class.
  • Compare the similarities and differences between wetland areas and water purification center.
    Wetland Model Investigation
  • Have all bins, eye droppers and any wetland materials you are providing organized for students. (You may want to provide sand, peat moss, plant matter, and water for students. I have students bring in their own materials but have options for them to use if they forgot.)
  • Review the parts of a wetland and what role they play.
  • Instruct students to fill in the wetland worksheet. Make sure they note how their model replicates the wetland.
  • Other resources needed:
    MN DNR Wetlands Chapter 3
    Magic School Bus Water Purification
    Clear Plastic Bin for each group
    Red Food Coloring
    Eye dropper per group with the top removed

    How students are assessed:
    Students compare how their model wetlands work to how actual wetlands work.
    Time considerations:
    One period for wetland tour
    One period for reading materials
    One period to build and observe the wetland. Students may finish readings while doing observations.

    Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) Model Lessons are freely available for use by all teachers for educational purposes only.

    MDE; Patricia Heldt, Clearwater Middle School, Waconia, MN
    Topic Areas: 
    Target Audience: 
    Grades Pre K-6
    Grades 7-9
    Geographic Location: 
    All Minnesota
    Outside Minnesota
    Enhancements / Connections: 

    Project Wet wetland analogy sheet

    Library loan: 
    Is training required?: