Resources for Teachers

Coastal Erosion

Grades: K- 6
Length: 1-2 class periods
Topics: coastal hazard, erosion, sediment transport, modeling, measurement

Coastal Erosion Photo

Coastal Hazard Erosion Poster in Color


Coastal lands, which include cliffs and beaches, are constantly eroding. Coastal erosion is difficult to predict and almost impossible to stop. Waves are the primary energy source that causes coastal erosion and climate change is impacting both sea level and storm intensity and frequency. Coastal erosion depends on the stability of shoreline sediments, the intensity and frequency of storm waves and the exposure of coastal lands. This activity is designed to help students understand coastal erosion caused by waves.

NGSS Alignment


    1. Students will model and observe how waves affect the movement of sand and erode cliffs on a coastline.
    2. Students will observe how coastal erosion can affect buildings constructed along the coast.
    3. Students will observe the difference in erosion caused by different sized waves.
    4. Students will measure and diagram results to present evidence of wave action
      on shoreline.

    Materials Needed:

    • Entire Lesson Plan
      • Contains background info, lesson plan, glossary, and color/BW coastal erosion poster
    • One large paint tray or large rectangular container at least 35 cm x 28 cm
    • 1 liter of moist sand
    • 600 ml of water
    • 1 15-cm-long wavemaker ( 1⁄2 of a 30-cm ruler or wooden paint stick)
    • Paper and pencil
    • Metric ruler
    • Three 2.5-cm pieces of wood
    • One 12 to 15-liter container for cleaning sand

    Lesson Materials: