Nature Study – Creeks

Welcome to my  10 Days Series on the topic of nature study! Each of the ten days brings you a creative nature walk idea and a fun follow-up activity to spark your enthusiasm for nature study today!

Why study nature?

The answer is more serious than you might think.

Today’s nature study: Creeks

Nature Study: Creeks

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Creative Walk:

The running water of a creek is a powerful force of erosion.  You can notice this in the deep ruts of a creek bed, exposed roots of trees near the edge of a creek, and even as you observe rocks resting in a creek.  Today, you’re going to search a creek for rocks and notice signs of water erosion.

Over time, the constant rushing water of a creek wears down, and sometimes breaks apart, large rocks.  Fast currents can actually pick up smaller rocks and deposit them elsewhere.  As you walk, you’ll be looking for several signs to show erosion is taking place:

  • Large, rough rocks may have smoothed sections where water is constantly running over them.
  • Larger rocks may have indentations, or even holes through them, where water drips or falls constantly.
  • Smaller rocks may be smooth and rounded from being knocked around often.
  • Smaller rocks may be gathered in what seem like piles on the creek bed.  In this case, there’s often a bend in the creek where the rushing water can no longer push the rocks forward.

Leave the nature notebooks at home today.  Simply walk near (or in) a creek and talk about erosion.  You might collect several rock samples which show various stages of erosion to display at home.

Follow-up Activity:

The following experiment will help you see how the flowing water of a creek can turn rough rocks into smooth pebbles.

  1. Place one piece of Lifesaver candy into an empty jar. This represents a rock sitting near a stream, but not in the water.
  2. Place a second Lifesaver into a jar that contains ½ cup of still water. This represents a rock that is in a still body of water like a pond.
  3. Place a third Lifesaver into a jar that contains ½ cup of water. Cover this jar and shake it for 3-5 minutes. This represents a rock that is in a moving body of water like a creek. When it bounces against the jar, it’s like the rock in the stream hitting other rocks.

After 3-5 minutes, observe all three Lifesavers.

The first piece of candy didn’t change because there was little to no weathering that would cause erosion. The second piece of candy changed slightly because it was being weathered/eroded by the still water, but ever-so-slowly. And the third piece of candy changed drastically because it was under constant active weathering, causing a great deal of erosion. Relate this to a real rock being changed to a pebble.

Read a Book or Two If You Like:

 Today’s creek activities are only a teeny-tiny sampling of similar ideas suggested in the NaturExplorers Incredible Creeks study!

Did you know my Facebook Friends often get special deals on NaturExplorers studies?  Join me there!

15 Comments

  1. We have a creek in our back yard…and I love that my children spend so much time exploring and playing in it! Thank you for this post and the ideas, as well as book recommendations.

  2. My kiddos love exploring the creek at one of the parks in our area…my dd especially loves the mud!

  3. I wish we had a creek in our backyard! We do have a nice one nearby though. This looks fantastic.

  4. Sarah James says:

    I just purchased this study at the Cincinatti conference! I’m excited to get started!!! Maybe next week?! 🙂

  5. I just found your blog through the 10 day series and I’m really I joying your great ideas for nature study.

  6. Sarah, I’m sending you an updated version via the email that you provided here! The copy I sold at the conference had a little glitch in formatting and some of the notebooking pages don’t lay on the paper correctly. Watch for a new copy to come you way!

  7. We love this exploration. We do it on a normal basis. Thanks for some new ideas. My kids love just looking and enjoying the water. XOXO

  8. yeah, we’re going to have to hold off on creekin’ it for a non-raining, non-lightning day, but I think this might be our next purchase!

  9. Excited about this one! My friend bought it and I’m sure we’ll be using it in our nature club!!

  10. Oh! This would be a good one before we head to Grama’s in the country.

  11. Can’t wait to go to the cousins house where there’s a creek! Thanks for the fun ideas : )

  12. A great visual experiment. Thank you!

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