The lesson introduces students to glaciers including their origins and characteristics.  The term glaciers may be heard in the news quite often related to global warming, but many students may not understand glaciers, or simply think of them as big pieces of ice that are melting.  The teacher is encouraged to use additional resource videos allowing students to “visit” a glacier and experience its immensity, and hands-on-activities.  The lesson may be adapted for younger students and used with environmental lessons.

Glaciers Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Glaciers
  • Hands-on homework activities learning about Glaciers
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 3-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson introduces students to glaciers including their origins and characteristics. The two main categories of glaciers, Alpine and Continental, are described, as well as several subcategories of each. The lesson spends time discussing how glaciers move and some of the formations created by glaciers. Students can take a virtual field trip to various glaciers using the video resources included with the lesson. The lesson may be adapted for younger students and used with other lessons related to the environment.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Ask students: What moves, but does not appear to move, is white, but may appear blue, can be wet, and is usually as solid as a rock?
  2. Allow for responses. (Give additional clues if necessary for the answer- glacier.)  Ask students to share everything they know about glaciers.
  3. Allow for responses and discussion, display some of the facts. Introduce Glaciers.
  4. Distribute Glaciers content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students.  Allow students access to the Internet for research.  You may wish to limit sites students can or cannot visit for facts about the glaciers, or assign a site to each pair of students to vary results.
  6. Once students have completed the work, discuss each glacier with the class, as pairs of students share information about each glacier.
  7. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  8. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  9. In closing, ask students: What do you think is the most interesting fact about glaciers? Why?
  10. Allow for responses and discussion. Students may write the fact on a piece of scratch paper to lessen the chance of the same fact being repeated.  Ask students why they think the fact is interesting to them.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.3

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Want more science resources? Check out our other Science Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade