Shoreline Science

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Shoreline Science
Earth Science
Grades 2-3 | 40 sessions

Students learn about the properties of sand and other earth materials, erosion, organisms and the environment, and human impact on the environment. They also learn to make inferences and use text features as they read, and to write reports and scientific explanations. They learn and use scientific vocabulary, such as habitat, predator, evidence, and compare.

Click Here to Download the Correlation of Shoreline Science with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Grade 2

Click Here to Download the Correlation of Shoreline Science with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Grade 3

» Download Unit Description


Do it:

Students engage in hands-on activities, such as observing different types of sand using magnifiers. Students also model the process of erosion by shaking hard candies in a jar.

Talk it:

Students are provided with many opportunities for small group discussions to help them make sense of science ideas. For example, students discuss a mystery sand sample and debate a statement about oil spills.

Read it:

Students read nine science books, including Gary’s Sand Journal, about how a real scientist studies sand. Students use comprehension strategies such as making inferences, and learn how to navigate informational text.

Write it:

Students write reports and scientific explanations, including an explanation of how a particular type of sand formed. Throughout the unit, students write to record observations and reflect on their learning.

Student Books

Learning Goals

Science Literacy
Science Knowledge
  • Properties of Earth Materials: Sand
  • Earth Processes: Erosion
  • Organisms and the Environment
  • Human Impact on the Environment

Science Inquiry

  • Making Inferences
  • Sorting and Classifying
  • Using Models
  • Making Explanations from evidence

Nature and Practices of Science

  • Understanding That Science Knowledge is Based on Evidence
  • Distinguishing Observations from Inferences
  • Recognizing That the Scientific Community Seeks to Improve Explanations
  • Understanding How Scientists Engage in the Practices of Science
  • Making Inferences
  • Using Nonfiction Text Features


  • Writing Scientific Explanations
  • Writing Reports
  • Using and Creating Concept Maps
  • Using Scientific Language and Vocabulary


  • Participating in Scientific Discourse
  • Making Explanations from Evidence
  • Using Scientific Language and Vocabulary

Science Content

The Shoreline Science unit teaches important life science and earth science concepts in the context of in-depth investigations of shorelines.

Earth science: Students learn that the ocean is a dominant feature of the Earth, covering a majority of the Earth’s surface. A shoreline is a place where water meets land, and a beach is a kind of shoreline. Students investigate Earth processes. They learn that erosion is a process that shapes the Earth as natural forces such as the movement of water, wind, or ice change parts of the land. Erosion can happen to an object, such as a rock, or a land form, such as beach. Students also investigate properties of Earth materials. Students learn that sand can be composed of many different materials, and that a sand’s properties are evidence of what it is made of and how it was formed.

Organisms and ecosystems: Students learn about the organisms that live in shoreline ecosystems. The parts of a shoreline ecosystem- both living and non-living- interact with each other. Shoreline organisms have adaptations, including behaviors and body parts, that help them survive in their ecosystem. Different parts of a sandy beach ecosystem, such as the nearshore habitat, the sandy beach habitat, and the beach wrack habitat, require different kinds of adaptations for organisms to survive.

Human impact on ecosystems: Students learn that humans cause changes to ecosystems. People harm shoreline ecosystems through oil spills, by leaving trash on beaches, and by building dams which prevent sand from being moved by rivers to beaches. People can help shoreline ecosystems by reducing the amount of oil that gets in the ocean, by cleaning up marine trash, and by recycling their trash.