El Rio Grande is a multi-disciplinary unit that studies of the effects of the Rio Grande on the Rio Grande Valley. Lesson plans cover content areas of Mathematics, History, Science, and Language Arts. The activities in this unit engage students in research, group work, information technology, and presentation.

The Rio Grande is an entire ecosystem. Its has tremendous influences on the people, animals, and plants that live in the Rio Grande Valley. These lessons can be used by anyone interested in studying the Rio Grande. If used in distant classrooms, field trips can be taken to local rivers and lakes.


El Rio Grande translates to "the big river." El Rio Grande is an important factor in the lives of the people who reside around it. For thousands of years, people who live near the river have been asking questions like, "Is it going to flood this year? Will there be enough water this year?" The fluctuating river is a constant reminder that we do not have control over this important resource.

What affects the level of the Rio Grande? Is weather a factor in the changes of the river? Explore these questions and others while you build weather watching machines and measure the changes that affect the state's largest river.




If possible, allow the students to take a daily reading of the river, or record the measurements yourself.


Check the materials list in the directions for the weather devices you are going to build.



  1. Students will work in teams of three or four.
  2. Each group will build a different weather device.
  3. Students will take measurements from their devices and record them in a journal.
  4. Students will take measurements of the river.
  5. Students will chart the readings from their weather devices.
  6. Students enter their collected data into the database/spreadsheet template weekly.
  7. After printing out summary reports and distributing them to the class, students engage in a discussion about weather trends.
  8. Students discuss the different ways the integrated software program can be used to analyze weather data. For example, have students identify the eight highest air pressure days and mark the cloud cover, wind speed, and wind direction; have them consider the connection between high pressure and other variables. This can be repeated for low pressure days as well.
  9. Students will draw conclusions about how the weather at the river differs/is the same as weather at the school site and what implications this may have.




Upon successful completion of this unit, the learner will:

Grade Levels

This unit is appropriate for elementary age students. This is an interdisciplinary unit involving skills of composition, geography, reading, and research. Basic computer skills would be helpful, but are not necessary.

Downloading and Printing Files

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Acrobat Reader or Portable Document Format (pdf) opens the files in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Pages cannot be edited in this format. However, .pdf files are less likely to be distorted. Pages that contain graphics or large images look better in .pdf and print very nicely. For your convenience, Acrobat Reader can be accessed from this page.

Microsoft Word (.doc)

Weather Lesson

Weather Journal

Acrobat Reader (.pdf)

Weather Lesson

Weather Journal

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Content Standards