Earth’s Spheres Interactions – Fifth Grade Earth Science

Earth’s spheres interactions are generally taught in fifth grade. What’s the easiest way to present these earth science activities? Read on for ideas for teaching how the hydrosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere interact.

Earth's Spheres Interactions Cover

Mr. Grow Teaches Interactions Between Earth’s Four Spheres

Our favorite fifth grade teacher read their next earth science standard aloud:

NGSS 5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

“Hmm,” said his teaching partner, Mrs. Washington, “with so many interactions between the spheres, where do we begin?”

As usual, Mr. Grow began clicking away on his computer. “Here,” he said before too long, “this unit on Earth’s spheres takes a three-pronged approach. First, the teacher introduces the concept. During this time, kids take notes. Second, the teacher models with a sample prompt. Finally, kids analyze prompts on their own.”

Mrs. Washington looked over his shoulder. “I like the integrated approach. Let’s take a closer look.”

Introduction to Earth’s Spheres Interactions

Mr. Grow opened the preview. “Like I said, the first step is to introduce Earth’s spheres. The teacher uses notes to lecture on the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere. Kids take notes.”

“Pretty straightforward,” said Mrs. Washington.

Introduce Earth's spheres interactions with a visual, lecture, and note-taking sheet.
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Modeling of Earth’s Spheres Interactions

“Next,” Mr. Grow continued, the teacher models Earth’s spheres interactions with a sample prompt:

A volcano releases carbon dioxide into the air.

“First, kids must state which sphere caused the interaction. In this case, it’s the geosphere. Second, they must determine which sphere was affected by this interaction. Here, it’s the atmosphere.

“Finally, kids use pictures, words, and arrows to explain. Depending on expectations, kids can respond in one of two ways. For example, a simple response might show a volcano sending carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, kids could expand to describe a chain reaction. In this situation, the geosphere interacts with the atmosphere. Then, the atmosphere may interact with the biosphere. As shown, the carbon dioxide can be used for photosynthesis.”

“Aha,” said Mrs Washington. “Great critical thinking exercises.”

Model Earth's spheres interactions with several different prompts.

Analyzing Relationships

“In the final part of the resource,” said Mr. Grow, “we find 22 more situational prompts. We could use them for a jigsaw activity. However, the author recommends using them throughout the year.”

“I agree,” said Mrs. Washington. “With so many possible interactions between Earth’s spheres, kids need lots of practice. As a matter of fact, I’d like to use a few each month.”

“To cut down on grading, we could even do it orally.”

Mrs. Washington grinned. Reducing grading was one of her goals.

Kids use 22 different prompts to analyze interactions between Earth's four spheres.

“In the end, we could use one of the prompts as an assessment,” Mr. Grow said. “Two rubrics are included.”

Mrs. Washington’s smile got even bigger. She loved it when a plan came together. Their fifth grade earth science unit was looking better every day.

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