Journaling with The Sun, Wind, and the Rain

Grade Levels: Pre-K - 12

Lesson Summary

This lesson is meant to model several possible uses of journal writing during instruction. The teacher will use journal writing to activate prior knowledge about forces of nature, teach vocabulary from the text, check student comprehension of important concepts, and have students reflect on their own learning processes.


  • Students will use their journals to reflect on their learning process, noting what they learned and how they learned it.

  • Students will understand how waves, wind, ice, and water shape and reshape the earth's land surface by eroding rock and soli in some areas and depositing them in other areas.


  1. Demonstration

    Ask students to write what they know about the sun, wind, and rain in their journals. Present the following vocabulary words from The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain by Lisa Westberg Peters: shifted, seeped, gouged, canyons, peak, plain, and sandstone. Direct students to copy the words in their journal. For each word have students brainstorm and write in their journal all the related words, phrases, or ideas they can. As a group, discuss the meanings of the words and write them on chart paper. Have students evaluate their own list against the classes. in their journals and make necessary changes. Read the book The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain, by Lisa Westberg Peters. This book discusses how mountains are made, using a girl's mountain made of sand as a focus. Point out use of vocabulary words and discuss how the sun, rain, and wind changed both the real mountain and Elizabeth's sand mountain.

  2. Guided Practice

    Provide students with a blank chart with the headings below, and work with them to fill in the chart using vocabulary and text from the book. The chart below has a few examples completed.

  3. The Changing of Mountains

    Forces of Nature Real Mountain Elizabeth's Sand Mountain
    Wind When the mountain is dry and the wind blows, it picks up some of the dirt and carries it away.

  4. Have students write in their journals about how the mountains changed, and explain what they know about the effects of the sun, rain, and wind. Encourage students to make inferences about what happened to the real mountain based on what happened to Elizabeth's mountain. Have students use their journals and write about their own thought processes as they draw conclusions. For example: We learned vocabulary and read the book. We went back and reread parts of it, comparing the two mountains. I knew that the sun dried out both mountains. I know that without water, sand and dirt do not stick together. I learned that the wind picks up some of the dirt and carried it away, and that is one reason why real mountains change.

  5. Assessment

    Read student journals and provide written feedback to students on their writing. Use this assessment to plan future lessons.

For more advice on using journals in the classroom, see Journaling.

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