The National Geography Bee commands much interest in the U.S. Geography is a fascinating subject that has been somewhat consumed in generic social studies lessons. Many older people who were drilled in geography and history fault modern educators for replacing them with social studies. History and Geography lessons are still taught, but in broader scope units that include culture, civics, government and other related topics. And critics are correct to an extent–when subject scope is widened some specific content falls through the cracks. So here are easy, hands-on geography lessons. Make hands-on landforms and topography maps for social studies and geography bee practice.
Hands-on topography maps for geography bee. Begin by mixing up a large batch of play dough. Make the play dough in class and use it for interactive math measuring lesson plans. Here’s an easy play dough recipe. This recipe will make enough for one student. Multiply ratios to make enough play dough for your class size.
1 cup hot water
1 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons alum or cream of tartar
Mix ingredients with fork till play dough cools enough that it can be worked by hand. Measuring and mixing play dough in class gives students practice in ratios, fractions and measurement. When mixed, separate play dough into two balls. Color one ball blue (or green) for water. Leave one ball plain color for land. Give each student a paper plate, a plastic knife and two zippered bags to separate play dough colors. Students will use these in hands-on geography lessons.
Next, introduce geography bee terms and definitions for landforms. Demonstrate shapes of landforms using play dough and then by drawing landforms on the overhead projector. Use black pen for land and blue for water. Students will use their blue and white clay to create landforms based on drawings from the board or overhead projector. Students should locate examples of landforms on topography maps or globes with 3D landforms.
Geography bee landforms, terms, definitions and examples for topography maps. Here are free printable landforms coloring pages and worksheets for geography lessons.
isthmus: narrow strip of land separating two large bodies of water and connecting two larger land masses, often bisected by man-made canal (Isthmus of Panama, Panama Canal)
strait: narrow strip of water, separating two large land masses and connecting two larger bodies of water, inverse of an isthmus (Straits of Mackinac)
island: small land mass in a body of water
key: island in a chain
atoll: a circle of islands (Bikini Atoll)
lagoon: shallow area of water surrounding an island
archipelago: chain of islands (state of Hawaii)
peninsula: piece of land that juts out into a body of water (states of Florida, Michigan)
bay: inlet of ocean near a land mass
gulf: larger inlet of ocean near a land mass (Gulf of Mexico)
lake: body of water larger than a pond, but generally smaller than a sea or ocean (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)
sea: body of water generally larger than a lake but smaller than an ocean (Caspian Sea)
river: narrow strip of water flowing in one direction from a higher elevation to a lower elevation (Missouri, Nile, Amazon, Mississippi)
tributary: branch of a river
delta: area at the mouth of a river where the river fans out in muddy marsh, silt or tributaries to meet a larger body of water (Mississippi Delta)
river basin: area along river that is drained by the river.
bayou: small bay or lake formed by a river
mountain: area of increased elevation rising to a peak
cliff: the edge of a piece of land that cuts away to land of lower elevation
dune: sandy beach that rises to an elevation along a lake
bluff: a rounded area of land overlooking a lower elevation
hill: an area of elevation smaller than a mountain with rounded top
mesa: steep narrow elevation, similar to a hill or mountain with a flat top
butte: an isolated rocky hill with steep, vertical sides and a flattish surface (Monument Valley, Death Valley, Grand Canyon)
plateau: wide, high area of elevation with flat top
waterfall: river ending with a descent over a rocky cliff
canyon: narrow corridor or pass between rocky elevations
gorge: similar to a canyon with a river bed at the bottom (Snake River Canyon)
For more hands-on geography lessons, visit this blog Free Lesson Plans 4u.