Stream Life – Background

The character of a stream changes as it flows through the countryside, tumbling over boulders, rushing over rocky cobbles, or gliding over a bed of sand. Streams provide homes for fish and salamanders, while animals like mink, raccoons, and birds visit them in search of food. If you look closely, you’ll find that a surprising number of insects live underwater in brooks and streams, a seemingly inhospitable environment for these small creatures. How do they meet the challenges of life in fast-flowing water, and why does this environment attract such a wealth of insects?

Streams afford a variety of habitats, from noisy cascades to quiet pools, from smooth, straight runs to rough, rocky riffles. Continue reading Stream Life – Background

Stream Life – Activities

FOCUS: Water in a stream rushes, splashes, tumbles, or flows smoothly, creating different conditions and homes for a variety of organisms. In spite of the challenges of life in moving water, the streambed teams with insects. Many feed on plant and animal debris, helping to break down organic material that falls into the water, and they in turn provide a rich source of food for fish, birds, salamanders, and other stream inhabitants.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about stream life.

Standing near a stream, take a minute to stop, listen, and look. Ask children what they notice and wonder about the stream and what animals might live in it.

Objective: To look for evidence of insects or other small creatures living underwater in a stream.

Ask the children how we could find out what kinds of stream creatures live in our stream. We could look for them in the places where they normally live underwater in a stream, noticing how many different kinds we find. Three good ways to do this are: Continue reading Stream Life – Activities

Stream Life – Puppet Show

The Net Result

Characters: Ellie, Dad, Maisie Mayfly nymph, Steven Stonefly nymph, Justin Case caddisfly larva.

Props: large magnifying lens; coat hanger, scrub brush, bottlebrush or round hair brush.

Ellie  Hey, Dad. Is it okay if I stay here while you fish? I want to look for a special rock to take home. I’ve got my magnifying lens with me. (hold up lens) See?

Dad  Okay, but I’m going to move upstream where your splashing won’t scare all the fish away! (exits)

Ellie  Thanks, Dad. Oh, here’s a nice rock. Continue reading Stream Life – Puppet Show

Stream Life – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Stream Life – Standards