Unit 8 of Benchmark Advance

Let’s get started on Unit 8! Here, friends, is your home for all of my resources, tips, tricks, project ideas, and freebies on Benchmark Advance Unit 8, our Earth Science unit.

My shop is filled with grade-specific Benchmark resources and many other fun resources.  Be sure to check out my Close Reading Companions for Unit 8!

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    Art Extension

    One art project I LOVE to do with my students during Unit 8 is a watercolor “rainy day” painting. First, I take a photo of each student holding an umbrella and I print it out in black and white. Then, I cut out their bodies and glue it onto a watercolor paper. After that, students use watercolors to create a rainy sky above their heads, using lots of water. Then comes the fun part! Students use a straw to blow the watercolor down the page so that it creates a rain-like scene over their photograph. Finally, I have students paint the ground below them and I sprinkle sea salt on the watercolored ground to create texture.

    Rainy Day Unit 8 Art

    Project-Based Learning

    My Unit 8 Benchmark Advance extension project is called “My Ideal Vacation.” The students choose their “ideal” vacation destination and research the climate, weather, natural hazards, attractions, and landforms, and then create a travel brochure to present to the class. I have my students come in professional attire and present as if they are travel agents. One of students successfully convinced his parents to take him to Scotland last summer 😉

    My Ideal Vacation PBL

    This file comes with:

    • Teacher pages (including a rubric)
    • Student research pages: Climate, Weather, Geography (landforms & natural hazards), Attractions, Checklist (student rubric)
    • Travel Brochure Template
    • Editable files: Teacher and student rubrics and a student instruction page for the project are also included as editable PPT files
    • “Listening Booklets” for students to complete as their classmates present to them

    Student Research Project

    Early on in the unit, I have students choose a natural disaster that occurred at some point in history. I guide them through the research process using my research scaffolding process, and I have them collect information that falls into their main research categories: Famous Example, Description, Location/Season/Climate Zone, Causes, Impact/Damage. They create a portfolio of their research and then design a presentation to teach the class about their natural disaster event.

    Natural Disaster Student Research Project

    Group Project + Teamwork

    I also love grouping my students into small groups for instruction and for a fun project! I use the leveled readers to teach students about a certain type of natural disaster that they become “experts” on as they analyze their small group text. Then, as a group, students pretend to be news anchors and run through a “weather report” where they warn their viewers of an upcoming storm or disaster. In their news report, they describe the natural disaster, what causes it, and how the community can prepare and stay safe.

    I film each student with a green screen backdrop and then overlay a “newsroom” in the background.

    Weather Report

    Fun Bulletin Board Ideas

    Here are some photos of the projects, artwork, and some other activities I completed during Unit 8 all displayed on our classroom walls.

    That’s it! I hope this post gives you some fun new ideas! If you’re a Benchmark Advance teacher, feel free to join us in our teacher Facebook group, Benchmark Advance Planning, Organization, and Tips.

    Questions or ideas to share? Please leave a comment on this blog post!


    Hi! I’m Toluca from Markers and Minions, where I help teachers feel more effective and confident with high-quality resources and an awesome teacher community!

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