Lesson Plan

Lynda Raskin, Formed by Glaciers, Date unknown, etching

Lesson plan developed by Jeanell Dailey, Taylor Prairie Elementary School, Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Grade Level


Summary of Activity

Students will identify the landforms found in the etching, Formed by Glaciers, and demonstrate a basic understanding of glaciers and their impact on the landscapes of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will observe landforms in the etching and predict which ones were formed by glaciers.
  • Students will learn key vocabulary related to glaciers and the landforms they produce.
  • Students will read/listen to information about glacial impact and demonstrate understanding with writing and drawing.

Guiding Question

By observing an etching and reading/listening to additional information, can students better understand the geological impact of how glaciers have changed the surface of the Earth?

Curriculum Connections

Language Arts, Earth Science


White 9 x12 construction paper, markers, 4 x 6 index cards, crayons, jumbo size paper clips, Glaciers Key Concepts and Vocabulary pages (cut into section strips), pencils, paper, white modeling clay (five or more pieces), brown modeling clay (four or more pieces), green modeling clay (four or more pieces), cardboard, masking tape, heavy-duty scissors, aluminum foil, flashlight, resources about glaciers, such as: Glaciers by Sally M. Walker, Glaciers Ice on the Move by Sally M. Walker, Real World Math Geography Glaciers by Barbara Somervill, Glaciers by Margaret W. Carruthers, Glaciers by Isaac Nadeau, Exploring Glaciers by Melody S. Mis, Glaciers Nature's Icy Caps by David L. Harrison


Tell students that we are going to be using an etching by Lynda Raskin to help us understand how glaciers have changed the Earth’s surface. We will begin by looking closely at Formed by Glaciers, to identify the landforms we know, and then break out in groups to learn more about glaciers. Each group will be responsible for teaching the rest of the class with the help of drawings and modeling. Then everyone will make their own etching of landforms created by glaciers.


Before looking at the etching:

1.  Ask students to tell a partner what they know about glaciers. Share some ideas as a class.

2.  Look at the etching and ask students to identify the landforms they know. Ask students how they think Lynda Raskin made this etching. Explain that an etching is a kind of printmaking where the artist first covers a sheet, or plate, of metal with a waxy substance called ground to protect it. Then the artist uses a sharp, needle-like tool to scratch through the ground to make a drawing. Then they apply a special acid to eat away at all the unprotected metal (the part that was drawn). The acid is washed away and the ground is removed from the sheet of metal using turpentine. Ink is brushed on the plate and then wiped off; some ink remains in the grooves of the metal plate. Paper is put on the plate and it goes through a printing press that presses the ink onto the paper and creates the picture. Students will create a simple etching after they learn more about glaciers.

3.  Tell students that they will work with a small group to teach the rest of the class about glaciers.  Divide the class into focus groups that will research the following concepts: What is a glacier?, How a glacier formed?, How do glaciers move?, and the topics Changing the Earth by Carving, Changing the Earth by Leaving Things Behind, and Glaciers Today. Give each group their strip from the key concepts pages and have them find additional information from resources.  They will be given time to research and write an explanation of their topic. Each group will also be responsible for teaching the key vocabulary words in their section. To do this they will make a mini-poster for each vocabulary word. They will use the construction paper and markers to boldly write the word across the top and then draw a picture or diagram to illustrate the concept. Each group will use materials to model the concepts. Suggested materials are listed after key concept information. Assign or ask students to choose groups/topics. Students will need one to two hours to complete this part of the activity.

4. When students are ready to share their information, ask them to present topics in the order of the Key Concepts page. They should begin each section with the topic question and get two or more responses before sharing their information. After each group shares, they will ask the class if they can see evidence of the vocabulary words in Raskin’s etching.

Discussion surrounding the "What can we do to help?" should include reducing use of fossil fuels (walk/bike to a friend’s house), reduce, reuse, recycle suggestions. The word posters should be hung so they are visible for the next activity.

5.  When all groups are finished sharing, review again all the landforms visible in Raskin’s etching; lake, moraine, esker, kettles, erratics, and valleys.

6.  Tell students they will create their own etching about glaciers. They should include at least three of the vocabulary words. To do this they will use crayons and color an index card with whatever colors they choose (it works best if they color darkly). Then take a black crayon and color over the colors until they are covered completely. When the index card is completely black, they’re ready to "etch" their picture using a straightened paper clip.

7.  As students finish, display their etchings in an area near the vocabulary posters. 

8.  When all are finished, have a gallery walk asking students to identify the glacier concepts in each etching.

9.  In closing, have a community circle sharing one way Raskin’s etching helped them to learn something about glaciers.

Extending the Lesson

This website has two great maps showing the impact of glaciers on Wisconsin: http://www.uwex.edu/wgnhs/sample.htm (Ice Age Deposits in Wisconsin and Landscapes in Wisconsin). These can be printed or viewed on a large screen to see what the glaciers did to the landscape of Wisconsin.

Glaciers: Key Concepts and Vocabulary

Study Groups Key Concepts Vocabulary
What is a Glacier?

A glacier is a huge mass of ice that moves. Glaciers are found in very cold parts of the Earth. There are two main types of glaciers, mountain glaciers on the tops of mountains and ice sheets that can cover whole continents like Antarctica, the North Pole and a large part of Greenland. Ice caps are smaller dome shaped sheets that can cover thousands of miles. Ice caps are found in Norway, Iceland, Asia, Canada, and Alaska. When an ice sheet is on top of water it's called and ice shelf. Icebergs are pieces of the ice shelf that have broken off. Glaciers cover about 10% of the Earth's surface and provide 70% of the Earth's freshwater.

modeling materials: globe (physical features if available) white modeling clay.

mountain/alpine glaciers
ice sheets
ice caps
ice shelf

How a Glacier is Formed

Glaciers are formed in places that are cold all year. When the place gets more snow than what melts, glaciers can begin to grow. It can take 20 years in places that get a lot of snow or thousands of years in places without a lot of new snow. A glacier begins with thousands of snowflakes. When the snowflakes begin to melt, they start losing the points on their spiky arms. The melted water vapor fills in the air spaces in the snowflake and turns it into a tiny ball the size of sand, called firn. The firn packs together and when it gets about 500 feet deep, the bottom layer is squeezed together and makes large ice crystals called glacier ice.

modeling materials: white clay

water vapor
glacier ice

How Glaciers Move

When the glacier ice gets to be about 150 feet deep, the glacier will start moving downhill from the force of gravity. When a glacier flows slowly down a hill it is called creep. Sometimes the layer at the bottom of glacier melts and the water makes it slippery so the glacier moves more quickly. This is called basal sliding and it usually happens in the summer.Most glaciers move slowly, only a few feet in a year.

modeling materials: white clay, cardboard to build mountains, water

basal sliding

Common Core Standards

  • 5.RI.1. Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • 5.RI.3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
  • 5.RI.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.RI.9. Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledge.
  • 5.W.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • 5.W.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • 5.W.5. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • 5.W.10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • 5.S&L.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and, texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • 5.S&L.2. Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • 5.S&L.3. Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
  • 5.S&L.4. Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • 5.L.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Wisconsin Visual Arts Standards

  • A.4.2 Learn basic vocabulary related to their study of art
  • A.4.6 Know that art is a basic way of thinking and communicating about the world
  • B.4.3 Know that works of art and designed objects relate to specific cultures, times, and places
  • B.4.4 Know that art is influenced by artists, designers, and cultures
  • B.4.6 Know basic ways to describe, analyze, interpret, and judge art images and objects from various cultures, artists, and designers
  • C.4.6 Use sketching to develop ideas for their artwork
  • C.4.7 Develop basic skills to produce quality art
  • C.4.8 Explore the natural characteristics of materials and their possibilities and limitations
  • C.4.9 Be aware of their creative processes to better understand their work
  • C.4.10 Develop personal responsibility for their learning and creative processes

Science, Standard C: Science Inquiry

  • C.4.1 Use the vocabulary of the unifying themes to ask questions about objects, organisms, and events being studied
  • C.4.2 Use the science content being learned to ask questions, plan investigations, make observations, make predictions, and offer explanations
  • C.4.3 Select multiple sources of information to help answer questions selected for classroom investigations

Science, Standard E: Earth and Space Science

  • E.4.3 Develop descriptions of the land and water masses of the earth and of Wisconsin's rocks and minerals, using the common vocabulary of earth and space science
  • E.4.6 Using the science themes, find patterns and cycles in the earth's daily, yearly, and long-term changes

Lynda Raskin (American), Formed by Glaciers, date unknown, etching, 15 x 11 inches. Gift of the Estate of Janet Ela. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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