Lesson Plan

Geology Makes a Home

Life on the Ledge

Watercolor Painting by Michael Hampshire

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fourth Grade
Archaeology, Architecture, Architecture (Building Styles and Methods), Earth Science, Geology, Landscapes, Social Studies
National/State Standards:
Common Core: W.3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 3.7, 3.8, S.L.3.1, 3.3, 3.6, L.3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.6, W.4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.7, 4.8, S.L.4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, L.4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.6. AZ: SC03-S3C1, C2, SC03-S3C1, SS03-S4C5, SC04-S3C1, SC04-S6C2, SS04-S1C2, SS04-S4C1, C2, C6.


In Geology Makes a Home, students will learn why the Ancestral Puebloans used certain rock types to build their homes and how the alcoves that the people built their homes in are formed at Walnut Canyon.


Guiding Questions: How would the different types of rock and geologic processes affect how the Ancestral Puebloans built their homes? How did the alcoves in Walnut Canyon form?

Critical Content: Weathering and erosion created the alcoves in Walnut Canyon that the Ancestral Puebloans built their homes in.

Student Objectives: Students will...

  • Create a model that demonstrates how softer layers of rock are weathered and eroded to form alcoves.
  • Understand how weathering and erosion created the alcoves in Walnut Canyon that the Ancestral Puebloans built their homes in.


See downloadable .pdf under the materials section.


• PowerPoint presentation
• Earth colored modeling clay, using two shades of clay is recommended (4 oz. per student or small group)
• Sugar cubes (3-6 per group)
• 1 see-through container with about 8 holes poked in the bottom per student
• 1 container to catch draining water
• Toothpicks
• ½ cup of cool water.
• Spoons to pour water on the model
• Student worksheet for Geology Makes a Home for each student

Student model materials can be preloaded into the plastic containers and handed out to the groups. Make sure to poke about 8 holes around the bottom sides of the container so the water can drain out.



The student worksheet should be collected and used to assess student learning in the lesson, particularly numbers 1, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 on the worksheet. These questions address the student’s ability to make predictions and observations, record data, and draw conclusions based on observations.

Additional Resources

This lesson plan was developed by 3rd grade teacher Caron Jones, as part of the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program.

Last updated: February 24, 2015