Out Teach
Physical Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Primary
  • Earth Science
  • Earth Science Station
  • Erosion
  • Ifthen
  • Landforms
  • Out Teach
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Science
  • Stability and Change
  • ifthen
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    Education Standards

    Mapping the Earth's Features -- Out Teach

    Mapping the Earth's Features -- Out Teach


    Students will create micro-landforms outside in order to mimic landforms and generate maps.

    Background for Teachers

    Out Teach logo

    Be familiar with various landform types and how they are commonly represented on maps.

    Key Vocabulary

    • Valley

    • Hill

    • Lake

    • River

    • Mountain

    • Volcano

    • Ocean

    • Canyon

    • Beach

    • Cliff

    • Delta

    • Plateau

    • Map key

    • Topography

    • Scale

    Before the Lesson/Set-Up

    Students will be working in teams; these may be formed ahead of time.

    Students need space and access to raw natural materials.

    Students may get dirty/need time to wash hands, etc.

    If using tools, you may need a tool safety reminder.

    Guiding Question

    How are different landforms represented on maps and why is it important to be able to read maps?


    Ask students to imagine what it would be like if there were a giant volcano right next to their school and inform them that many students all over the world do go to school very close to volcanoes, including the west coast of the U.S. How might life be different if you lived next to a volcano; landforms have an important impact on our lives.


    Ask students to work in teams; find a space to work and create landforms on the ground, using object they find.

    Ask students to create a map of that shows the landforms they made.

    Sample questions:

    • What kind of landforms can you make?

    • How will you show that landform on your map?

    • How is that landform created in nature?


    Ask students about the different landforms created and list them on the board/paper.

    Ask some of the same questions from the explore to create a group discussion with the answers. Write down some of the map features that students share and supplement any that are missing: keys, labels, symbols, scale.


    Ask students to continue to work in their groups, adding features to their maps or editing their maps to make it easier for others to read and interpret.

    An extended elaboration could include analyzing maps of the region and identifying important land features nearby and their names.


    Ask students to write a sentence in their journal explaining why they think maps might be important for people.

    Extension Ideas

    Students may research different regions and how landforms influence people's lives.

    This lesson can be connected to lessons about solutions to natural disasters like floods, eruptions, earthquakes, etc.

    Career Connections

    The IF/THEN collection is the world’s largest free digital library of authentic and relatable images and videos of women STEM innovators.  


    Dr. Davina P. Durgana is a statistician whose goal is to stop danger before it happens by creating protective enviornments. 


    Have your students watch this video for inspiration about pursuing STEM careers, and read this profile to learn more about Dr. Durgana's story.


    Thank you for creating a culture shift in how the world perceives women in STEM.