This week in our 10 Weeks of Summer Reading series we have a FREE Unit Study about Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes. Learn about the geography and history of the Great Lakes including Niagara Falls, how it is used for power, and the daredevils who have completed stunts there.
Grab one or both of the books, sign-up to receive the FREE printable unit study and then explore the other resources below! There are so many subjects you study further depending on the interests of your children. Rainbows, hydropower, erosion, lighthouses, shipwrecks, bridge construction, the fresh water biome, and more!
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The Books about Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes
The Niagara Falls and Great Lakes unit study is based upon The Mystery on the Great Lakes and Where is Niagara Falls?. You may read one or both of these books.
Where is Niagara Falls? starts with the discovery of the falls and includes how the area was developed into a tourist attraction and the daredevils who became part of the “show”. Then, learn how the force of all of that water is used for electric power!
The fictional The Mystery on the Great Lakes introduces readers to some of the sites around the Great Lakes, including lighthouses and shipwrecks. This book could easily lead to further research into a variety of topics.
The Niagara Falls and Great Lakes FREE Printable Unit Study
The unit study includes the following:
Notebooking pages about Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes.
A timeline activity to chart events that happened in the Niagara Falls area.
A mapping activity to learn how the lakes connect, the states and countries that border them, and where cities grew up around them.
Comparing and contrasting chart for the Great Lakes with questions to answer.
A Writing prompt to encourage children to think about what it would be like to be a daredevil at Niagara Falls.
Vocabulary Cards with pictures and explanations for 12 words related to Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes.
Learn How Electricity is Created
We learned that Augustus Porter channeled some of the water from the Niagara River to run waterwheels to create power. This power could do such things as grind wheat into flour. It would eventually provide electric power to thousands of people. Here is a video about how waterwheels work:
Make your own waterwheel! There are several videos showing you how to make your own waterwheel. Some include using household objects for a small table top waterwheel and some show how people built wooden waterwheels in creeks on their property. Here are a few to get you started:
And here is how you could make your own waterwheel with Legos and a hose: Build a Lego waterwheel
In the late 1800s, the power of Niagara Falls was used to bring electricity to the surrounding areas. This video introduces the idea of how Niagara Falls is used to make power. There are longer videos that explore this topic more, such as this one from the History Channel.
We learned in Where is Niagara Falls? that Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla had different methods of delivering power to places. This video explains the two different methods, DC and AC current.
Learn about Rainbows
One can often see rainbows in the mist of Niagara Falls. Here is why that happens:
You may want to use one or two prisms on your own to experiment with refracting light.
Learn about Erosion
The falls that are part of Niagara Falls are moving due to erosion. Here is a video about how waterfalls form as a result of erosion:
Here is amazing footage of part of the falls eroding away in 1954:
For some easy, hands on exploration of erosion, check out these different Erosion Lab experiments.
Learn about Bridges
We learned in Where is Niagara Falls? about the challenge of building a bridge across the Niagara River. Here is a great video about different types of bridges. Can your children pick out which one we learned about in the book? Maybe they want to make some of their own bridges after watching the video.
Learn About Lighthouses
There are many videos on YouTube of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Some are full documentaries and some are video footage set to music. Here is a short one to give you a feel for the coast of Lake Michigan and a couple of its lighthouses:
Learn about Shipwrecks
There have been many shipwrecks on the Great Lakes and you can find many full length documentaries on YouTube about them, especially the Edmund Fitzgerald. Here is the song written about the Edmund Fitzgerald, which gives you a bit of the history of the ship.