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Compose a Stream Song

Elementary, Middle


The resource presents a novel way for students to become freshwater stewards by first becoming familiar with a stream-side environment and then creating a song about their impressions.

The initial step is a field trip to a local river or stream. Students describe the site by keeping a nature journal, making a map or telling a story. The field trip is followed by additional visits and study as time permits. When the students have become 'connected' with their surroundings, they compose a song either individually or as a class.

Students will:

  • Record their observations by the stream side
  • Write journal entries on their favourite place in their nature journal
  • Learn the rules for a salmon habitat study
  • Compose lyrics for a song individually or collaboratively

The resource suggests additional resources to enhance the learning such as websites, music CD's and handbooks for educators.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • written communication
  • making observations
  • leaving no trace


  • Novel and interesting idea!
  • Activity allows students to express themselves through song writing and singing
  • Lessons are organized easy to use
  • Good background information for the teacher
  • The activities are age-appropriate and can be adapted for other levels.


  • Suggest ways for students to present what they have learned to their peers, parents or community
  • No adaptations for students with learning difficulties
  • No authentic action project is provided
  • Does not provide assessment tools for teachers

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Fisheries
  • Water (1)

    • Watershed Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

The resource presents the importance of preserving and taking care of streams and rivers and appreciating our natural environment. The resource promotes the importance of sharing the stream with others and that every organism contributes to the health of the ecosystem.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory
  • The resource addresses the environmental and social responsibility of citizens to ensure the protection of the stream side and the fish which inhabit them.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
  • The resource presents the importance of preserving salmon habitat or other stream side environments.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
  • Although there is no action project presented, teachers have ample opportunities to create opportunities for students to become aquatic stewards, promoting the importance of rivers and streams.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

In the song writing activity students have the opportunity to express their 'stream-visit observations' and personal feelings about the environment.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good
  • The activity has the students familiarize themselves with the stream-side environments and learn the importance of preserving these aquatic environments.
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good
  • Students connect with the riparian environment and learn what rules they can follow to ensure the preservation of this habitat and its species.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good
  • Students visit a stream and record their observations in a nature journal. Using their observations they create a song to share their own personal feelings about the environment.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
  • Music
  • Science
  • Language Arts
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
  • Students are provided with questions to answer such as  similarities and differences between their observations and the list of what they expected to see.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory
  • Interesting resource as it explores a song-writing activity as its final product. No accommodations for students with learning difficulties.
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good
  • The resource includes a field trip to a local river or stream. One of the activities looks at the study of salmon which makes it an authentic experience for students living on the Canada's coasts.  They are encouraged to visit the salmon habitat or incubate eggs and watch their development in class.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • Students work in pairs to write lyrics for their song.
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good
  • Suggestions are provided to review student handouts and monitor in-class discussion to ensure that the students can observe and describe a variety of phenomena from nature.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory
  • Background information of a salmon habitat study
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory
  • Some suggestions to enhance the learning are provided.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.