Free Nature Studies: Water and Ice

Free Nature Studies: Water and Ice
Free Nature Studies: Water and Ice

Glaciers smoothed down mountains, built up hills, carved out lakes, and formed rivers.

Read the current chapter online: “Water and Ice”

  • Copy and illustrate Psalm 147:15-18.
  • Read about rocks that are thought to have been moved by ice — otherwise known as glacial erratics.
  • Study the anatomy of a glacier at
  • Read about how glaciers affect the land at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
  • What is the difference between a glacier and an iceberg?  Find out at the University of Guelph.  Make a compare/contrast diagram or chart showing the similarities and differences.
  • Read about the RMS Titanic at
  • View the mouth of the mighty Mississippi at NASA.
  • Study the anatomy of the Mississippi River at
  • Study the anatomy of a geyser at the National Park Service.
  • Something to do #1: In case you are unable to locate the June 1926 National Geographic Magazine, you can still read about icebergs at Ohio State.
  • Something to do #2: Print out a map of the U.S. and Canada at  Then you can use a map of the North American ice sheets at to mark the parts of your map that were thought to have been covered with ice.
  • Something to do #3: You may find this section in the Handbook of Nature Study helpful for finding out How a Brook Drops Its Load.  You’ll find nature journal resources below.
  • Something to do #4: You’ll find activities below to help with this experiment.
  • Copy and memorize Job 36:26.
  • More about water and ice from the Book of Knowledge

Glaciers are great streams of moving ice. Countless fragile and gossamer snowflakes, pressed closely together, form the heavy ice of which they are made. Sometimes glaciers are long and narrow, like rivers; sometimes they are very broad, extending hundreds or thousands of miles in every direction….

A typical valley glacier, like a river, has three parts: a headwater area, a main course and a downstream end. In the headwater region, from which the glacier is supplied, there are wide and deep expanses of snow and ice. Each new snowfall buries and presses down upon these white fields until the upper layers of fallen snowflakes change into little grains of ice, each one separate from the others. This granular mass is called the névé or firn. In time, with constantly added pressure, the névé becomes ice that is closely packed. Even this more solid ice, however, shows that it was made from falls of snowflakes; for each fall of snow there is a distinct layer of ice.

Soon the ice begins to flow downhill. If you have ever picked icicles from the edge of a roof or from a bush, you know that ice is brittle; it will break but not bend. However, if a mass of ice particles is subjected to very heavy pressure, the ice will flow as a liquid does, although much more slowly. In the head region of a glacier, the great pressure of the thick ice and snow above causes the lower portion of the ice to flow out from beneath the top part. This flowing ice forms the river of the valley glacier.

“Glaciers and the Great Ice Age,” The Book of Knowledge

Further Investigation

ThinkQuest covering how glaciers are formed, how they move, and other interesting facts.

How Do Glaciers Affect Land?
Answers at The National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The Life of a Glacier
The comings and goings of ice described at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

How Do Glaciers Change Earth’s Landscape?
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

The Anatomy of a Glacier
Definitions and review questions at the University of Alaska.

Why Are Glaciers Blue?
Learn about light and glaciers at

What are the Different Types of Erosion?
Answers at Queensland Government site.

Types of Glaciers

The Evolving Path of the Mississippi
Map at showing incredible changes!

How Geysers Work
Helpful animation at the National Park Service.


How Glaciers Are Formed
See the different layers of snow that have compacted to form a glacier in this NeoK12-selected video.

Inside a Glacier
View the inside of a glacier in this NeoK12-selected video.

Glacier GAK
Simulating a Glacier at

Do-It-Yourself Iceberg Science
Iceberg experiments at Miami University.

Deconstructing History: Titanic
Includes an animation of how the ship hit the iceberg.
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

The All-Star River Explorers
Interactive at the University of Illinois that shows an old map of U.S. rivers and a more modern one, and the change in rivers from glacial activity and other causes.  (Frames through number seven are pertinent to the lesson.)

Earth and Its Resources
Experiment at showing the effects of a stream for those who don’t have one handy to observe (Something to do #4).

What It Takes to Make a Geyser
Interactive at the National Park Service that walks you through the ingredients.

Earth's Landforms & Surface Features

Discovering Earth’s Landforms & Surface Features by Dinah Zike
One of the Great Science Adventures from Common Sense Press, this title includes glaciers and how rivers shape the land. Following an “inquire, discover, and apply” approach, the student creates his own foldables while investigating concepts.  You’ll find a sample lesson at the publisher’s site.

Stickeen by John Muir
John Muir was a naturalist who studied glaciers.  This is a sweet story of his dog companion on one of his explorations. Free public domain download.

Feats on the Fiord {Free eBook & Activities}

Feats on the Fiord
Fun tie-in.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Glaciers and Icebergs
Lesson plan at that explores glacial scraping (patterns left behind by a glacier).

Lesson Plans on Glacier Dynamics at the University of Kansas:

Two Models Showing the Effect of Glacial Ice on a Mountain
Templates included in this USGS download.

Erosion and Deposition
Lesson plan at NASA.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
Great for copying and illustrating the verse at the beginning of the lesson as mentioned in the suggestions above.

Kinds of Glaciers
Printable at the University of Kansas with images showing the different types.  Perfect for notebook!

Anatomy of a Glacier
Printable for notebook at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}
Nature journal pages for recording stream observations.

Water and Ice Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, and Something to Do #3.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World