Chapter 1 – Introductory Lesson

As an introductory lesson to an earth science unit that I would teach my fifth graders, I would have them complete an activity centered around the photograph that can be found at  This link takes the user to a photograph of an eruption of the Kilauea Cinder Cone Volcano.

During this lesson, the students would first silently view this photograph and complete a short writing activity in which they reflect on the following questions:

  • What do you see in this photograph?  Describe what is happening.
  • Why do you think this is occurring?  What do you think is the cause?
  • What is/will be the impact?
  • Have you ever experienced something like this, or do you know someone who has?  Describe that experience.
  • What questions do you have about what is occurring in this photo?
After the students have had time to think about and write their responses, the class would have a discussion about individual student’s thoughts, insights, and questions.  The purpose of this discussion is twofold: first, it gives me, the teacher, an idea of what knowledge the students already possess concerning volcanic eruptions and the processes that cause them to occur; second, it gives the students an opportunity to connect their prior knowledge to the new topic that they are about to study and to share their innate fascination with some of the more dynamic, violent processes that occur on Earth.
During the discussion, I would lead the students into thinking about the processes that cause volcanic eruptions to occur and have them also think about the other types of processes that occur on earth, their possible causes, and the fundamental pieces that are necessary for them to know in order to better understand these processes.  Overall, this introductory lesson will primarily serve to excite students about the topic of earth science!

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