ALEX Lesson Plan


Connect Four

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Marcus Jackson
System: Chickasaw City
School: Chickasaw City Elementary School
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34659


Connect Four


During this lesson, the students will learn how the Earth's spheres interact with one another in order to support life on planet Earth.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

*This lesson can be taught over a two- to three-day period. 


 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
14 ) Use a model to represent how any two systems, specifically the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and/or hydrosphere, interact and support life (e.g., influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere).

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Systems and System Models
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Atmosphere
  • Hydrosphere
  • Geosphere
  • Biosphere
  • Model
  • Phenomenon
  • System
  • Earth
Students know:
  • Earth's major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere, and the biosphere (living things, including humans).
  • These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth's surface materials and processes.
  • The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate.
  • Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather.
Students are able to:
  • Develop a model, using a specific given example of a phenomenon, to describe ways that the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. In the model, identify the relevant components of their example, including features of two of the following systems that are relevant for the given example:
    • Geosphere (i.e., solid and molten rock, soil, sediment, continents, mountains).
    • Hydrosphere (i.e., water and ice in the form of rivers, lakes, glaciers).
    • Atmosphere (i.e., wind, oxygen).
    • Biosphere [i.e., plants, animals (including humans)].
  • Identify and describe relationships (interactions) within and between the parts of the Earth systems identified in the model that are relevant to the example (e.g., the atmosphere and the hydrosphere interact by exchanging water through evaporation and precipitation; the hydrosphere and atmosphere interact through air temperature changes, which lead to the formation or melting of ice).
  • Use the model to describe a variety of ways in which the parts of two major Earth systems in the specific given example interact to affect the Earth's surface materials and processes in that context. Use the model to describe how parts of an individual Earth system:
    • Work together to affect the functioning of that Earth system.
    • Contribute to the functioning of the other relevant Earth system.
Students understand that:
  • Systems, like the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere, can be described in terms of their components and their interactions.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Dynamics of Ecosystems

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.5.14- Identify how the atmosphere and hydrosphere interact to support life (e.g. air, water).

Local/National Standards:

RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently. (5-ESS2- 1)

W.5.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources. (5-ESS2-2)

5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. [Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Learning Target: I can create a model that shows how the Earth's system interact and support life.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

The students will need the following items: 4 paper plates, crayons, coloring pencils, water and water paints w/brush (optional), science journals, pencils, pens, scissors, sentence strips, cardstock, or construction paper.

The teacher may group these items, ahead of time, for the students to use in small groups, or allow the students to bring in the items for group use.

Technology Resources Needed:

Interactive Whiteboard

Document Camera (optional)

Use computers or tablets



The teacher should know that Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the land-forms to determine patterns of weather. (5-ESS2-1) ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes -Nearly all of Earth’s available water is in the ocean. Most freshwater is in glaciers or underground; only a tiny fraction is in streams, lakes, wetlands, and the atmosphere. (5- ESS2-2) 



  • The teacher will begin the lesson by asking the students, "What happens where on earth?"  Allow the students some time to think about the question, before soliciting answers.
  • The teacher will create a large circle shape of the Earth on chart paper, which should include the continents, oceans, and the sky.
  • The teacher should label these areas on the chart.  
  • The students will label or draw various events on different areas of the chart (for example, the sky--an airplane flying, the land--a volcano erupting, the water--a day at the beach).  As the students label the events. Ask: "What do you see?  Why?"
  • The teacher will ask the students, "What does it mean when we say things are interacting?" Prompt the students to give some examples of interactions between things (for example, a singer interacting with a crowd, a child playing with its pet dog or cat).
  • Ask the students if any of the events they have labeled are interacting on the chart and, if so, how do you know? 


  • Tell the students that the class will take a nature walk around the school. Before the students leave the classroom, explain outside safety rules.
  • Group the students into groups of twos. You may want to use equity sticks, pull names out of a hat or bag, or assign colors to assist with grouping the students.
  • Give each group of (2) students four paper plates. Have the groups cut out the center portion of the paper plates and discard the remains into a recycling bin. (You may want to use this time to introduce recycling.)
  • Ask the students to cut a horizontal line in the rim of each plate. The groups should label the paper plates (individually) biosphere (plate 1), hydrosphere (plate 2), atmosphere (plate 3), and geosphere (plate 4). The labels should be placed around the outer rim of the paper plates.  
  • As the class takes the nature walk, ask the students to draw what they see, feel, or hear in each sphere on the labeled paper plate (for example, atmosphere: birds, the sun, the wind, etc.). As the students label a sphere, ask how that object benefits from that sphere and could benefit from another sphere.
  • After the nature walk have the students discuss what they drew and labeled.
  • After the students finish the discussion, allow the students to connect each paper plate to the other. The students should connect the insides of the horizontal slits.
  • After the students have connected the paper plates, give the students an opportunity to glue the ends of the paper plates together. You may give the students more time to critique their models by adding color, paint, etc.
  • Circulate throughout the room as the students work on their models. Be sure the students understand the interactions between the spheres and that the interactions are showing on the models. The students have now created a model showing how the spheres interact with another. (Examples of the paper plate models may be found in the Attachments section.)


  • Distribute the laptops or computers to the groups. The teacher will provide the students with information on the Earth's Spheres (,
  • The students will create a Four Spheres foldable. See the following video for assistance:
  • Ask the students to write the name of each sphere on one of the front tabs of their foldable. Allow the students to add graphics and details to each tab. After the students finish labeling and decorating the front of their foldable, guide the students into questioning the text, as they research the information on each sphere.  
  • As the teacher and the students question the text, the students should record the information on the back tab of the corresponding sphere. The teacher may use the following questions to guide the reading/research: What is it (focusing on the prefix) (for example, bio=life, hydro=water, etc.)? What causes it? How does it work? Which spheres are interacting and how? What are the human impacts? How do plant and animals benefit from this sphere? What are some features in each sphere (hydrosphere--fish, whales, shrimp, etc.)? You may want to discuss ecosystems within the biosphere and the hydrosphere.
  • Allow the students some time to further their research by searching the spheres/systems on the internet. KidRex ( is an example of a kid-safe search engine that could be used. The students can check out books and/or magazines such as National Geographic, Discovery School, USA Studies Science Weekly, and various periodicals from the school or public library to assist with their research. The teacher may bring in books on the topic to assist students with their research. 
  • After the students complete their foldable, the teacher should display the foldable or allow the students to use the information as a study guide for a teacher-made assessment.


  • Show the students the video at Allow the students to discuss what they have seen in the video. Discuss the video referring to the special features and events that were used to explain how the Earth's spheres/systems interact with one another.
  • Place emphasis on the music that was used to keep the viewer's attention as the video played.  
  • Introduce Animoto to the students ( The teacher and the students will need to create a free account for Animoto. Once you have created an account, you may use Animoto for free for 30 days. The directions for creating the Animoto videos are very simple, and the students will enjoy creating their Animoto productions.
  • The students will use Animoto to create a video of the Earth systems/spheres. The students will continue to work together in their groups of twos. You may assign each group two spheres to present in their Animoto production. You may use your discretion in creating a rubric or setting grading parameters for the groups. Some ideas and suggestions for creating you Animoto rubrics are attached.

**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

Assessment Strategies

Evaluate: (Chose one or chose them all)

  • The students will answer the following questions in their science journals: What parts of the Earth make a system? How does each sphere interact with one another?
  • The teacher will use a rubric to grade the students' four-door book foldables (see the Attachment section). Allow the students to share their foldables with the class. Display the foldables throughout the classroom or on a bulletin board.
  • Allow the students the opportunity to test their knowledge by playing a Kahoot game on the Spheres (
  • The teacher may allow the students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge by sharing the following assessment quiz: teacher can make a copy of the quiz and print it for the students. You will need to create a free account to access this feature.


Play a game of  “Name that Interaction” by allowing the students an opportunity to choose an interaction pair(s) from a bag (e.g., sun-soil, tree-wind, ice-air, tornado-trees, rocks-tsunami, thunderstorm-park, humans-satellites). The teacher should write the interaction pairs on sentence strips, cardstock, etc. Ask the students to identify the spheres that depicts that particular interaction pair. The students can create a collage illustrating the interaction pairs,or create a story telling how the observation pairs interact with one another.


The teacher will provide assistance with helping those students needing remediation by:

  • circulating throughout the classroom as the students research the information on the Spheres of the Earth.
  • providing the students with feedback as they complete their models and organizers.  

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.