In this lesson, students will build three-dimensional play dough models from pictures that show various landforms and bodies of water. As they analyze and compare their different models, students will realize that there are many different types of landforms and bodies of water on Earth. Based on their play dough models, students will discuss how various landforms and bodies of water can be represented on a map.
- Identify different landforms and bodies of water from pictures and maps.
- Describe how landforms differ from each other.
- Develop a model and map representing landforms and bodies of water.
NGSS AlignmentThis lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
- 2-ESS2-2. Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.
|Science & Engineering Practices||Disciplinary Core Ideas||Crosscutting Concepts|
|Science & Engineering Practices||Developing and Using Models.
Develop a model to represent patterns in the natural world
Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Use observations (firsthand or from media) to describe patterns and/or relationships in the natural and designed world(s) in order to answer scientific questions and solve problems.
|Disciplinary Core Ideas||ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions.
Maps show where things are located. One can map the shapes and kinds of land and water in any area.
Patterns in the natural world can be observed.
For each student group:
- Play dough (brown, yellow, green, grey, black, white, red, or other nature colors). Have enough for every group to build their model.
- Printed and cut-out landform pictures
For the teacher:
- Printed example landform images
- Printed island map
Background Information for TeachersThis section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.
Landforms and bodies of water are natural features of the Earth's surface. They have developed over billions of years through the movements that occur inside Earth and on its surface. Wind, weather, or erosion turned rocks into tiny sand particles, glaciers or rivers carved huge canyons out of mountains, and deposits of sand formed beaches and sand dunes. These are just some examples of how the landscape has been shaped across the planet. The table below lists and describes some more common landforms.
|Type of landform||Description|
|Mountain||A large, steep hill|
|Hill||Mounds of land with rounded tops that are shorter than mountains|
|Valley||Areas of low land in between mountains or hills|
|Plateau||Flat surfaces that are higher than the land around them|
|Canyon||Large cracks in the earth formed by rivers or weathering|
|Plain||Large areas of flat or gently rolling land|
|Desert||Dry areas that get little or no rain|
|Island||Area of land completely surrounded by water|
|Ocean||Large bodies of salty water that cover about 70% of Earth's surface|
|River||Large streams of water that flow into larger bodies of water|
|Lake||Smaller bodies of water with land all around them|
|Beach||Area of loose particles at the edge of the sea or other body of water|
Each place on Earth is characterized by its own specific combination of landforms and bodies of water. We interact with some of these landforms almost every day when we swim in a lake or river, climb up a hill, or hike down a mountain. We can use distinguishing landforms such as mountains or lakes to orient ourselves, for example when we are hiking in nature. We can also orient ourselves by using a map. A map is a representation of a specific location on a piece of paper. It can show where things such as roads, bodies of water, or mountains are located. Some maps include representations of all the landforms in a specific area and thus can give a snapshot of distinct landscapes anywhere in the world.
Each landform or body of water can be represented on a map, as shown in Figure 1. On a physical map, different colors often indicate a different landform; blue indicates water, brown indicates mountains or hills, and green indicates forests or grassland. Most maps include map symbols or a legend, which are small icons, lines, dots, or colors that describe how to read the map.
Figure 1. A map showing different landform features on an island. (Image source: Map of Efate Island EN by HK kng is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons)
In this lesson, students will create representations of specific landform features by building three-dimensional play dough models from pictures that show various landforms and bodies of water. As they analyze and compare their different models, students will realize that there are many different types of landforms and bodies of water on Earth. Based on their playdough models, students will discuss how various landforms and bodies of water can be represented on a map.