Grade Seven Thematic Unit Part 3: Four Sacred Elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Wind

Part Three: Four Sacred Elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Wind

Science: Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective

Time Frame: 45 Minutes

Objectives: Students will be able to read and reflect upon definitions of the Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective.


  • Class reading
  • Group discussion
  • Personal reflection


  • Worksheet handout
  • Use of Internet (optional) Space Requirements: Classroom

Background Information: Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective allow students to view the western scientific point of view. The reading provides students with an opportunity to view the components which make up each of the elements. These four elements are identified by most cultures as the most significant elements.


  1. Photocopy and hand out the four element information sheet. Read it together as a class. Have the students underline or highlight the relevant points. Have students make jot notes in their science notebook (20 minutes).
  2. Divide students into small groups to think about experiments that they could do with each of the four elements (10 minutes).
  3. Have students bring their ideas for element experiments back to the rest of the classroom (15 minutes).
  4. Optional: Provide the students with an opportunity to teach a mini lesson or experiment regarding one of the four elements. Provide students with the materials they may need to construct such experiments. Read through the material provided regarding the Lakota view of the four elements, discuss with students. Compare and contrast the two definitions


  • Peer evaluation and group evaluation
  • Completion of the worksheets and jot notes within their science notebooks.

Information Handout #1

Water: What is Water?

Water is made up of:  2 atoms of Hydrogen and 1 atom of Oxygen which are bonded together

Interesting Facts:

  • Earth’s most plentiful compound is water (Forcefield, 2002).
  • Around 70% of the human body is composed of water (Forcefield, 2002).
  • Water can be a liquid, gas and solid due to water’s network of hydrogen bonds.
  • Water has the highest specific heat of any known substance (Forcefield, 2002).
  • Water has the highest heat of vaporization of any known substance (Forcefield, 2002).
  • Water has the highest heat of fusion of any known substance (Forcefield, 2002).
    • These last three facts explain why water requires a lot of energy to boil and a long time for it to cool down (Forcefield, 2002).
  • Water can dissolve a large variety of compounds (Forcefield, 2002).
  • Water is the only known liquid that shows expansion upon cooling (Forcefield, 2002).
    • The majority of liquids contract when cooled, therefore achieving their highest density when they freeze (Team C0126220, 2001).
  • Water’s highest density occurs at 4°C, which is above water’s freezing point of 0°C. This is unusual for a liquid (Forcefield, 2002).
  • Because water’s highest density occurs at 4°C, water which freezes (which is less dense) floats to the top of the dense water. The frozen water then, acting as insulation for the dense water below, keeps the dense water from freezing and allows aquatic life to stay alive in the winter (Team C0126220, 2001).

Questions about Water:

1. During a warm or hot summer’s day, what time do you think is the best for watering a garden?

During the morning or evening, as during the middle of the day the water’s rate of evaporation is the highest due to the heat (heat increases the speed of evaporation). In the morning or the evening, less water will evaporate because the air is cooler.

Information Handout #2

Water States: Gas, Liquid, Solid

When does each state occur?

water states

The Three States of Water:

  1. Solid: When the temperature of water is lower than freezing (snowflakes, ice)
  2. Liquid: When water is between freezing and boiling
  3. Gas: When water exceeds its boiling point
change of states

The Changing from One State to another State:

  1. Condensation: The process of water molecules contracting from a gas to a liquid.
  2. Melting: The process of water molecules transforming from a solid to liquid.
  3. Evaporation: The process of water molecules expanding from liquid to a gas.
  4. Frost formation: The process of water molecules changing from a gas form into a solid.
  5. Sublimation: The process of water molecules changing from a solid form to a gas formation.

Adhesion and Cohesion

adhesion and cohesion

Adhesion: Water can be bonded to other materials through the shared bond between oxygen and hydrogen molecules.

Cohesion: Water is bonded to other water through the shared bond between oxygen and hydrogen molecules.

Adhesion and Cohesion: Both adhesion and cohesion are caused by the properties of hydrogen molecules and oxygen molecules. Hydrogen molecules have a positive charge which bonds to the negative charge of oxygen molecules.

Surface Tension:

Surface Tension is the result of the structure of water molecules at the surface of water. This structure pulls the water molecules together, providing the water the tension to allow objects which are heavier than water to float. To experiment with surface tension put a pin or a paperclip into a container of water. The paperclip or pin will be heavier than water but the surface tension keeps the pin afloat. What other objects can surface tension keep afloat?

surface tension


  • Container of Water
  • Pin
  • Paperclip
  • Experimental objects

Surface Tension #2:


  • Wax Paper
  • Water


  1. Lay out a piece of wax paper
  2. Put a droplet of water onto the wax paper.
  3. Watch the droplet of water and ask yourself these questions:
    • What is the shape of the water droplet?
    • Why do you think the water droplet has taken this form?
    • What is happening?

Wax paper and water have no adhesion between each other, and as such they are not attracted to each other. As a result, each water molecule in the droplet of water placed on the wax paper is not attracted to the other water molecules in the exact same droplet of water. Due to the lack of adhesion between the wax paper and the water, the water drop pulls itself into a bead (sphere), in order to cover the least amount of surface area possible. The surface water on the bead of water is what holds the water molecules together, producing surface tension (Seavey, 2002).

Capillary Action

capillary action

Capillary Action is related to the bonding agents in water. In order to understand Capillary Action, take a straw and place it into a container of water. Watch how the water moves up the straw. The water molecules are attracted to the straw molecules. The movement of water is caused by the capillary action of water; as one water molecule progresses up the straw, the resulting water molecules are attracted to the initial water molecule, subsequently causing the water to move up the straw. Now you will also notice the water only moves up the straw to a certain point, then stops. This is because the capillary action within the water is restricted by two factors: the size of the straw and gravity. The larger the width of the straw, the lower the water will be pulled up the straw by capillary action. Therefore, the opposite (having a thinner straw) results in the water moving further up the straw as a result of capillary action. Using the following materials, test this and write a summary of the experiment below (Seavey, 2002).


  • One Thin Straw
  • One Wide Straw
  • One Glass
  • Water

Write a summary of your Capillary Action experiment.

Question about Capillary Action:

1. How do you think plants use Capillary Action?

Plants use capillary action to move water into themselves from the ground. However, the process of moving water from the roots to the plant is accomplished by another force called transpiration.

Transpiration: Transpiration is when water evaporates into the atmosphere through plants’ leaves and stems. The process starts first with capillary action in the plant’s roots, which absorb water from the soil. This capillary action used by the plant’s roots pumps water up from the soil, delivering the necessary nutrients to the plant’s leaves. This pumping is driven by the evaporation of water through “stomates” which are small pores found on the underside of the plant’s leaves. 10% of all evaporated water is due to Transpiration.

Information Handout #3

FIRE: What is fire?

Interesting Facts about Fire:

  • When an old vehicle is rusting, it is experiencing the same chemical reactions as fire, however the time in which the vehicle takes to rust is much slower than a fire.
vehicle rust

Four Components Required for Combustion:

In order for combustion (rusting, fire, explosives) to occur, four main components are required:

fire components
  1. Fuel
  2. Oxygen
  3. Heat
  4. Chain Reaction

If, for any reason, one of these components is not present or is taken out, the combustion will stop occurring.



Image Resource: Brenda. (2007). Rusting Away. 

Information Handout #4


Earth: What is Earth?

  • The Earth is the fifth largest planet
  • The Earth is the third planet from the sun
  • The Earth is 4.5 to 4.6 billion years old!

Earth consists of:

  • Iron -> 35%
  • Oxygen -> 30%
  • Silicon -> 15%
  • Magnesium -> 10%
  • Other -> 10%

The Layers of the Earth:

There are seven distinct layers of our Earth. Each of these layers has its own physical properties. The seven layers are:

  1. Crust
  2. Upper Mantle
  3. Transition Region
  4. Lower Mantle
  5. D’’ Layer
  6. Outer Core
  7. Inner Core

Physical Properties of the Core:

  • Primarily Iron
  • The temperature of the core can reach 7500K.
  • 7500K is hotter than the surface of the sun.

Resources: Marshak, S. (2005). Earth: Portrait of a Planet. Norton and Company: New York, London.

Information Handout #5

Air: What is Air?

Air composition

Dry Air is made up of:

  • Nitrogen – 78%
  • Oxygen – 21%

The remaining 1% is:

  • Methane
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Other Trace Gases
  • The trace gases found in air are very important to the Earth’s system because they are greenhouse gases.
    • Greenhouse gases control the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere (Marshak, 2005: 627-628).

Wind: Wind is “the flow of air from one place to another” (Marshak, 2005:625).

Air Pressure: The pressure of the air in our atmosphere is not consistent but changes depending on the air’s elevation; the farther the air is away from the earth, the lower the pressure, as the air in the higher elevations pushes down on the air below. Air pressure therefore increases the closer you are to the Earth (Marshak, 2005:628)

Why do Balloons rise?

Balloons rise because air, a combination of different gases, surrounds Earth. The gas (helium or hot air) inside balloons causes the balloons to rise because it (helium or hot air) is thinner than the air surrounding the Earth (Marshak, 2005:625).

Water in Air

At the beginning of this handout, the gases which are present in dry air were stated. Yet air always contains water and the water percentage in air varies depending on where the air is. It can range from the water present in the air in a hot desert, which usually averages 0.3%, to the water present in the air during a rain shower in a rainforest, which averages 4% (Marshak, 2005).

An Important Trace Gas: Carbon Dioxide

What is Carbon Dioxide?

At room temperature carbon dioxide is:

  • A Gas
  • Odourless
  • Colourless
  • Slightly acidic
  • Non-flammable

(Lenntech Water Treatment, 2004)

How do we use Carbon Dioxide in our daily lives?

  • Soft Drinks (Carbon Dioxide is the fizz)
  • Cooking (The Carbon Dioxide in Baking powder and Yeast results in the batter rising)
  • Fire Extinguishers (Because Carbon Dioxide is denser than air, therefore able to act as a “blanket” on fires because it is a heavy gas and blocks oxygen from reaching the fire. A fire needs oxygen to burn as we learned in the handout about fire, and therefore Carbon Dioxide stops the fire burning.)
  • Technology
    • Decaffeinated Coffee
    • Dry Ice (used in theatrical productions to create fog and effects that can be used in things like magic potions)

(Lenntech Water Treatment, 2004)

How does Carbon Dioxide work in our Environment?: Contributes to the lives of plants and animals, this is called photosynthesis and respiration (Lenntech Water Treatment, 2004).

Photosynthesis: Plants are able to combine water with carbon dioxide to make glucose and oxygen which are their compounds for food (Lenntech Water Treatment, 2004).

Carbon Dioxide and Our Future:

  • In the next 100 years, the carbon dioxide in our air will double due to the increased use and burning of petroleum and coal due to our society’s demand for energy (Weather 50 Street, 2007).
  • Around half of the carbon dioxide produced will be a source of food for vegetation and subsequently “eaten” (Weather Street, 2007).

What happens with the other half? The Greenhouse Effect

  • There are negative effects on our environment when we burn fossil fuels. Carbon Dioxide is released when we burn fossil fuels, and it is good because it creates a “greenhouse effect” which captures heat and holds it in the Earth’s atmosphere. The greenhouse effect received its name because it mimics how a greenhouse works; it creates and stores hotter air on the inside than on the outside (Marshak, 2005:468).
  • Yet, too much Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere can be negative as the increase of atmospheric temperature causes “global warming.” This increase in temperature can result in negative environmental changes (Marshak, 2005:468).


Lenntech Water Treatment. (2004). Carbon Dioxide. Retrieved from:

Marshak, S. (2005). Earth: Portrait of a Planet. Norton and Company: New York, London.

Weather Street. (2007). What is Air made of? Retrieved from:

Information Handout: Let’s work together to save our Water, Fire, Earth and Air!

At the start of each day give the students one of the following (cut out) combinations of interesting facts (or something you have found). Then discuss them amongst your students.

Let’s start recycling the Metals we use in our daily lives!

  1. There are 350, 000 aluminum cans manufactured each minute
  2. It takes only six weeks for a recycled aluminum can to become a new can.
  3. 50 000 aluminum cans are created in the time that it took you to complete reading this sentence.
  4. An un-recycled aluminum can will still exist 500 years from now.
  5. If you recycle ONE aluminum can, you SAVE energy.
    • The energy saved by recycling one aluminum can is enough to:
      • i. Watch TV for three hours
      • ii. Produce a half gallon of gasoline

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Metals we use in our daily lives!

  1. An aluminum can has the ability to be recycled infinite times!!!!!
  2. A long time ago, aluminum was worth more than gold.
  3. Aluminum cans are being manufactured to weigh less.
    • In 1972, 1 pound of aluminum would create 22 cans.
    • Presently, 1 pound of aluminum creates 29 cans.
  4.  By recycling one pound of aluminum (29 cans), you can save enough electricity to run one 60 watt light bulb for more than a day.
  5. The recycled steel in the USA saved enough energy to provide heat and light for 18 000 000 houses.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Paper we use in our daily lives!

  1. 500 000 trees are cut down in order for the Sunday newspaper to be made.
  2. If we recycled ONE day of the New York Times, we would save 75 000 trees.
  3. The USA could save 25 000 000 trees a year if each person recycled one out of ten of all of their newspapers.
  4. If we recycled all of our newspapers we could save 250 000 000 trees every year!
  5. Think about this: You plant a tree, and once it has grown you have your tree made into grocery bags (paper bags). You can make around 700 grocery bags with your one tree. In one hour at the supermarket, all 700 of your grocery bags will have been used.

That means in one year, ONE supermarket uses 60 500 000 paper bags.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Paper we use in our daily lives!

  1. If we recycled the paper and wood that we threw away every year, we could provide heat for up to 50 000 000 homes for twenty years.
  2. About each person uses enough paper, wood, and other products to amount to seven trees in a year. This means that in the USA they use 2 000 000 000 trees every year.
  3. Think of the smell a dump has. Did you know that smell is actually so distinct because of the paper?
  4. In WW1, raw materials were hard to come by, and therefore recycling was common. During this time, 33% of paper used was recycled. However, this number has decreased significantly since.
  5. The average residence throws away 13 000 pieces of paper (majority being packaging and junkmail) every year.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Paper we use in our daily lives!

  1. For every ton of recycled paper, you can save:
    • i. 17 trees 
    • ii. 380 gallons of oil
    • iii. three cubic yards of landfill space
    • iv. 4000 kilowatts of energy v. 7000 gallons of water
  2. Which means: i. 64% energy savings ii. 58% water savings iii. 60 lbs less air pollution.
  3. By saving those 17 trees, the saved 17 trees can eliminate 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air every year.
  4. If we did not save those 17 trees, and burned the paper instead of recycling it, we would put 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.
  5. The costs of constructing a paper mill intended to use recycled/waste paper is 50% to 80% less than the cost of a paper mill which uses new pulp.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Plastic we use in our daily lives!

  1. Plastic waste (bags, garbage) that are found in oceans, have killed and continue to kill up to 1 000 000 sea creatures each year.
  2. By recycling plastic instead of burning it (incinerating), we are able to double the energy savings.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Glass we use in our daily lives!

  1. Think about a giant skyscraper. Now picture this giant skyscraper filled to the top with glass bottles. We throw out enough glass bottles to fill a giant skyscraper each month, despite the fact that glass bottles are recyclable.
  2. It takes 4000 years for a glass bottle to decompose, if this glass bottle is in a landfill, it takes even longer.
  3. What happens when we recycle one glass bottle instead of having a new glass bottle made?
    1. We can save enough energy to run a 100 watt light bulb for four hours.
    2. It decreases the amount of air pollution caused by that glass bottle by 20%
    3. It decreases the amount of water pollution caused by that glass bottle by 50%
    4. The waste materials which are created to produce new glass bottles (mining, transporting) is reduced by over 80% when a bottle is recycled instead.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Water we use in our daily lives!

  1. 2.5% of the world’s water supply is made up of freshwater lakes, rivers, ice, snow, and underground aquifers.
  2. 97.5% of the world’s water supply is made up of saltwater seas and oceans.
  3. 7% of the world’s renewable water supply comes from Canada
  4. 33 million people are supported by Canada’s Great Lakes
  5. 8.5 million Canadians receive their drinking water from the Great Lakes.

(The Green Lane, 2008)

Let’s start recycling the Water we use in our daily lives!

  1. Presently, we are using 3800 cubic kilometers of fresh water every year! This is two times the amount of fresh water we used fifty years ago.
  2. To grow 1 kilogram of potatoes you need to use around 1000 kilograms of water.
  3. The use of water in Canadian homes is:
    1. 30% - toilet
    2. 35% - bath/shower
    3. 20% - laundry
    4. 10% - kitchen/drinking
    5. 5% - cleaning

(The Green Lane, 2008)

Let’s start understanding the benefits of water

  1. Everyone should drink 2 to three litres of water (liquids) every day.
  2. 2 – 3 litres equals approximately 8 glasses

(The Green Lane, 2008)

Let’s start understanding Water.

  1. Around the world, primarily in developing countries, 1.8 million people pass away due to diarrhoeal diseases. 90% of the 1.8 million people are children under the age of five years.
  2. One billion people worldwide do NOT have access to safe drinking water.
  3. 2.4 billion people worldwide do NOT have access to adequate sanitation.
  4. Improved sanitation can reduce diarrhea morbidity by 32%

(The Green Lane, 2008)

Let’s start recycling: Recycling Facts.

  1. We can recycle 75% of our garbage.
  2. In 1898, the first recycling plant was built.
  3. Approximately 1/3 of dumpsters are made up of recyclable packaging materials.
  4. Each year in the USA, 1200 lbs of organic matter which is supposed to be composted is thrown out.
  5. The USA makes up 5% of the world’s population yet it produces 40% of the world’s waste, with each person averaging 1609 lbs of trash.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling: Recycling Facts.

  1. We throw away 5% – 15% hazardous substances.
  2. Tinfoil is recyclable. 80 000 000 Hershey Kisses are wrapped in tin foil each day, that equals over 50 acres of recyclable tinfoil.
  3. Presently, rainforests are being cleared at a rate of 100 acres per minute.
  4. For every $10 spent, $1 is going towards the cost of the packaging. That means packaging costs 10% of the total product cost.
  5. Cloth diapers cost only 3 cents to wash. Yet:
    • i. Disposable diapers cost 22 cents each use
    • ii. An average baby uses 10 000 diapers.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

Let’s start recycling: Recycling Facts.

  1. On average, a family in the United States purchases and drinks:
    • i. 26 gallons of bottled water
    • ii. 29 gallons of juice
    • iii. 104 gallons of milk
    • iv. 182 gallons of pop.
    • Remember to recycle these bottles! 
  2. One quart of motor oil can pollute around 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.
  3. 1/3 of water used in the majority of homes is used when you flush your toilet.

(The Recycling Revolution, 2008)

How much of the waste in an average dump can be recycled?

dump composition

Resource: The Recycling Revolution. (2008). Closing the Loop. Retrieved from:

For more interesting information regarding water and water pollution look at Safe Drinking Water Foundation’s Fact Sheets, which can be found at:

Information Handout: Lakota Four Elements of Life

The following handout has been copied from: Kills, B & Newcomb, S. (2004). Toward an OGlala Lakota Contitution Statement of Basic Principles. Retrieved from:

Makoce (Land)

Billions of years ago, Inyan gave life to Wi. As a result, Winyan came to life. Winyan is the Sacred Life-Giver. Every handful of earth or dirt has life. Your ancestors lived there. The Earth is where life comes from. It took millions of years for the dirt to form; it's alive both spiritually and biologically; it's teeming with life. Wamakaskan, is the spirit that comes from the dirt, because the dirt has been created by living things coming to life, living, dying and coming back to life again. Every year, something grows there, and dies and decays, and grows again. Wa (snow) is the purest form of matter. Ma ka (dirt). Skan skan (movement). Wa ma ka skan: Spirit ("The sacred dirt that moves.")

Mni (water, movement)

Water is life-sustaining liquid. Water is an essential element of life because without it, everything dies. Because water is sacred, it should not be contaminated and polluted. Water is naturally stored in the Earth's aquifers. Water flows as healing liquid through natural springs and hot springs. Water flows through the rivers, the veins of Mother Earth, the Sacred LifeGiver. Water recharges our bodies. Pure water is medicine that flushes toxins from our bodies, and sustains the child in the womb of its mother. Falling rain drops and snow help cleanse the air of contaminants.

Peta (Fire, energy, lightning)

Fire provides energy and heat. Fire must be respected because it has the power to destroy, but it also has the power to enable us to live even in the coldest of winters. Fire has the power to rejuvenate and replenish; even dead plants. Fire is used in our ceremonies. The sparks from every ceremonial fire represent the spirits of our ancestors. Our ancestors regarded the return of Wakinyan (the thunder beings) as the beginning of a new cycle. The Thunder Beings tells us a new year begins. When lightning strikes the ground, the heat activates nitrogen in the soil. This energy gives new life, and green things spring forth and begin to grow.

Oniye (Air, breath, oxygen) Without breath and air we die. Clean air is essential for the health and life of the People. The cooling winds from the North cleanse the air and the whole environment is rejuvenated after these winds pass through. Freezing winter winds kill off harmful bacteria, while preparing the Earth for a new beginning in the spring. Trees are important to the air because of the way they take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen essential to life.

  • Compare and contrast western science with Lakota traditional knowledge.
  • What are the similarities?
  • What are the differences?


Kills, B & Newcomb, S. (2004). Toward an OGlala Lakota Contitution Statement of Basic Principles. Retrieved from:

Language Arts: Four Elements Creative Writing

Time Frame: 90 Minutes or two 45 Minute periods


  • Students will be able to reflect about each of the four scared elements and the role these elements play within their lives.
  • Students will be able to write creative pieces regarding the imagined interaction with one of the element spirits.
  • Students will be able to author and illustrate a book that they will be able to share with their reading buddies or lower grade levels.


  • The teacher will divide students into dyads or triads where they will be able to write and illustrate a book
  • Student publishing


  • Paper
  • Imagination
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Pencil crayons

Optional Materials: Pictures from the Internet used for illustrations.

Space Requirements: Classroom and anywhere students will be able to work on their project.

Background Information: Stories are a method to understand concepts. When the students are able to write about the element “spirits” they will be able to personify and give the elements human-like characteristics.


  1. Divide students into dyads or triads where they will work together to write and illustrate a book about one of the four elements. Provide students with an opportunity to brainstorm about the characteristics of their chosen element. Provide students with an opportunity to view the previously mentioned books as well as others you may have found on this subject. Remind the students of group expectations; that everyone is expected to contribute equally to the assignment at hand. Ensure that an equal number of groups are assigned to each element (20 minutes).
  2. Offer students an opportunity to use the following story starters or to come up with their own story line (25 to 50 minutes). Story line starters:
    • The Fire Element is a powerful force; it has the power to create and the power to destroy. One day I walked by a smoldering fire and out jumped a Fire Spirit and it said...
    • Sometimes I feel the wind upon my face and I close my eyes. Yesterday I opened my eyes and saw the Wind Spirit for the first time. I was surprised that...
    • One day I was walking in the forest and I heard a horrible sound. When I looked down I saw that the ground had opened and it looked like a pair of mud lips. I thought the earth was going to swallow me but instead she, Mother Earth, began to talk and she said....
    • One day I was walking by a river, it made me sad to see all the pollution on the river banks, suddenly I heard crying and I walked closer to the sound. The sound was coming from the river. There, floating on the river, was a Water Spirit...
  3. Once the students have begun writing their story, have them then map out the illustrations for each of the pages of the books on scrap paper. Fold a legal size piece of paper into ten storyboards (15 minutes).
  4. Students will then begin working on their final copy. Students can choose to keyboard or print the words for each of the illustrations (15 minutes).
  5. Students will then draw or paste illustrations to the proper page (20-60 minutes).
  6. The books should be about ten pages in length.
  7. Optional: laminate the books upon completion and sew the pages together with a sewing machine.
  8. After the books are written, the students can share them with classmates or choose to read them to reading buddies in the lower grades. Books can be placed in a student publishing section of the library.


  • Creative Writing Rubric
  • Peer group evaluation

Resources: There is a variety of literary sources that go with this theme and may be of use within the classroom:

Bouchard, D., & Vickers, R. H. (1997). The Elders are Watching (3rd ed.). Vancouver: Raincoast Books.

Caduto, M. J., Bruchac, J., Ka-Hon-Hes, & Wood, C. (1997). Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children (1st Fulcrum trade paperback ed.). Golden, Colo: Fulcrum Publ.

Condon, P. (2001). Changes: the Turtle's Teachings. (2001). [cassette/compact disc]. Saskatoon, SK: Gabriel Dumont Institute.

De Coteau Orie, S., & Canyon, C. (1996). Did You Hear Wind Sing Your Name? : An Oneida Song of Spring. New York: Walker.

Waboose, J. B., & Taylor, C. J. (1999). Firedancers. Toronto: Stoddart Kids

Four Sacred Elements Worksheet



Devise an experiment or activity that can represent each of the following elements:

  • Fire: 



  • Water: 



  •  Air/Wind:



  • Earth:



Creative Arts: Drama: Imagination and the Four Elements

Time Frame: 45-60 Minutes


  • Students will be able to explore with their imagination by identifying with the four elements.
  • Students will be able to act out or portray the various elements.
  • Students will be able to portray fire, water, earth and wind.


  • Teacher led drama instruction
  • Experiential learning
  • Physical movement and interpretation


  • Teacher’s instruction sheet
  • Imagination

Space Requirements: Cleared area in classroom or a large open space.

Background Information: Drama instruction through movement and imagination is a way in which students can learn with their entire physical self. Drama encourages students to adlib various movements and sounds.


  1. Begin the process with the students finding an area on the floor where they can lie down. Ask the students to close their eyes (this exercise works well if the lights are turned off). Tell the students to relax all parts of their body beginning with their feet and moving to their head. When you feel that most of the class is relaxed and feeling light, begin reading the Teacher Notes for this lesson (5 minutes).
  2. Read each of the elements allowing for time to relax and reflect between each exercise (12 minutes).
  3. Divide students into four equal groups, assign each group an element. Then give the students about ten to fifteen minutes to develop their representation of the element. Examples:
    • Fire: Students begin with lying on the floor and they slowly get up and start waving their hands in the air, and bending up and down to represent the flames of a fire, one person may move from the fire and the fire begins again in another place. Students could come up with sounds for the fire like: crack, crackle, whoosh, etc.
    • Wind: Students can have a piece of paper, they can blow upon it and then pretend that they are the wind and blow down others in their group. Dialogue and sounds can be developed
    • Earth: One student could play Mother Earth while others would play people who have been polluting Mother Earth or students could represent rocks and how these rocks were moved from one place to another, each of the rocks could tell the story of their movement.
    • Water: Students could start as water in a stream and then end up in a glass of water.
    • The ideas are endless.
  4. After the students have developed their performance pieces they will perform them, pieces should be under two minutes each. Allow ten to fifteen minutes for the performances.

Evaluation:  Active and imaginative participation.

Creative Art: Drama Teachers’ Notes

Relaxation Exercise (repeat before and after each element)


  1. Have students find a place on the floor where they have room to lie down
  2. Turn the lights off
  3. Ask the students to close their eyes
  4. Ask the students to calm all parts of their body starting with their feet and continuing up to their head.
  5. Put on some classical/soft/American Indian flute Music
  6. Tell your students in a soothing voice to:
    • Relax your body, relax your feet, your feet are feeling like they are so light they are weightless…
    • Relax your knees, your knees feel like they are floating, let them float with the universe
    • Relax your chest, relax your shoulders, etc.
    • Relax your head, you are floating…
      • Move onto Element Instruction

(Giorgio, 2004)

Element Instruction

Element of Fire

  1. Imagine the universe is surrounded by fire. A fire which is HOT, RED and dry.
  2. Have your students imagine they are inhaling fire and exhaling empty air, leaving the fire inside their bodies. Tell your students that their bodies should be getting hotter and hotter as they are filled with fire.
  3. The fire is changing from red to white fire (wait one minute), then changes from a white fire to violet fire, then into multiple colours.
  4. Your body is becoming part of the fire; you are becoming one with the fire.
  5. Tell the students that when they start to feel one with the fire, to start moving as though they are a flame. Anything and everything you touch will start to burn; everything becomes hotter and hotter and hotter.
  6. Your flame starts to die down, until eventually it has completely burned out.
  7. When the students have felt their fire burn out, have them drop to the ground.
    1.  Repeat relaxation exercise
    2.  Then move onto Element of Water

(Giorgio, 2004)

Element of Water

  1. Everything you know, everything you have ever seen, is completely surrounded by water. It is as though you were swimming in the depths of the ocean. The water is COLD, WET, blue, with some areas that are dark blue.
  2. You take a big gulp of water in when you gasp for breath and surprise yourself to find that you can breathe in the water. You take a long deep breath, the water is so cold.
  3. As you are breathing in cold water, you exhale only empty air. The water stays within you, and you slowly start to feel your body becoming colder and colder.
  4. Imagine putting your hand into freezing cold water and the feeling of numbness that takes over as your hand becomes colder and colder. Transfer that feeling to your whole body.
  5. Imagine that your body has become so cold it has turned into an ice cube.
  6. As the ice cube starts to melt, you can feel yourself floating in a pool of water with rain pouring down on top of you.
  7. In an instant, you change from lying on the ground to becoming one of the raindrops falling through the depths of the sky. You work yourself across the room as you are falling to the ground, once the raindrop has hit the ground you lie back down.
    1. Repeat relaxation exercise
    2. Move onto the Element of Air

(Giorgio, 2004)

Element of Air

  1. Imagine you are surrounded by nothing but air. Air below you, around you, above you. The air you see around you is hot and yellow, as the sun is shining directly onto it. At times the air may change to a light blue, or even to a transparent colour like the air you breathe every day. The air around you is very light. Light, light, light.
  2. Now you are becoming that air which surrounds you, you are the air, you are the wind, and you are what others breathe in. Each time someone breathes in, you become lighter and lighter and lighter. It is as though you are a balloon, floating through the sky.
  3. You are inhaling air, transparent, light air.
  4. You are weightless, floating around your universe. You are the air inside of a bubble, floating around and around, but be careful! If a bubble hits something it will break. Once your bubble has broken, find a place on the floor and lie down.
    1. Repeat relaxation exercise
    2. Move onto the Element of Earth

(Giorgio, 2004)

Element of Earth

  1. Imagine you are surrounded by earth; a dense and heavy earth. The earth that is surrounding you is black and brown, cold and dry.
  2. You start to breathe in earth, the cold, dense and dry properties of the earth are moving through your lungs, as you become heavier and heavier and denser and denser.
  3. As you inhale earth think cold and dense, yet as you exhale, you exhale only empty air.
  4. Each time you breathe in you should feel heavier, your body becoming harder to move, you are heavy like a rock.
  5. You are a rock, mold yourself into a rock form and hold that pose.
  6.  Relax and lie down.
    1. Repeat relaxation exercise

(Giorgio, 2004)

Resources: Giorgio, L. (2004). Hypnosis for Kids. Working With Elements.