Over the River and through the Woods...

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Students will be able to gather information from provided resources to answer a question.

Big Idea

Labeling images helps students build landform recognition skills.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I open up the screen on the SMARTBoard.

On the SMARTBoard I have already loaded the PebbleGo website. This website has many resources on numerous topics but it is a paid subscription site. Our school subscribes to the site so we have access to many research opportunities for our students. The site can be used either to introduce students to a topic or used to support instruction, which is what I am using it for today.

“Boys and girls, today we are going to look at some different features of the Earth. Earth features are often referred to as landforms. Does anyone think they know what a landform is and give us an example?”

I select a student who is raising their hand to respond to the question.

“Good explanation and example Carson; a landform is something natural made and a canyon and cave are both good examples.”

“We are going to watch and listen to an informative piece which will show us many different types of landforms and how to recognize them on maps.”

“You will need to use your listening ears and observing eyes to pick up on all the facts we are about to see and hear.”

Once we have listened to each of the little informative section I turn off the SMARTBoard and ask the students, “Now can anyone tell me any new facts about landforms?”

I will select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to answer the question.

“Yes Finnley, that is a good fact; volcanoes are a landform and they help change the surface of the planet.”

I select two or three more students to respond to the question.


 I use the PebbleGo website to give my students an introduction into the physical features that make up our planet. The interactive multimedia activity will help the students increase their vocabulary and gives them background information on different landforms. 


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called Follow that Map!: A Book of First Mapping Skills, by Scot Ritchie.”

“What do you see the children riding over?”

I select a student to respond to the question.

“That’s right Sebastian; the children are riding over mountains. Mountains are a physical feature of the Earth. They are a landform that can be found on maps. What other landforms do you see on the cover of this book?”

I select another student to respond.

“Great Richard; I see valleys and rivers to. Any others?”

I select as many students as it takes to cover all the landforms.

“Good observations team. Let’s go ahead and read to see what other landforms we come across.”


During reading I will go over new vocabulary words such as; compass rose, scale, valley, trail, etc.

I like this book because despite being a story about a group of children chasing after a pair of animals, it mentions many different landforms and map features. The book asks the reader to locate a particular child on each page which means the reader has to really pay attention to the information being given. For example, “Which person is going the wrong way on the trail through the park?”

I use the fair sticks to select students to come up and point out the answer to the question asked on each page.  


After reading we take a quick picture walk through the book to show how each map built on the previous page until the children ended up right back where they started.

“During this book the children in this story certainly got to see many different landforms along their travels. Can anyone tell me one physical feature they saw?”

I use the fair sticks to select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand.

I continue using the fair sticks to select students until we cover as many of the landforms as we can.

“You all did a great job recalling many of the landforms we saw in featured in this book. Today at one of the work stations you will be asked to look at some landform images. You will each get a sheet like this one (I hold up a sample of the recording sheet with the landform images on it).”

Landforms recording sheet

“Of course the first thing you will do is…?”

I allow the students’ to call out the response, “Write your name!”

“That is right; you need to write your name. Any work that does not have a name gets ripped and put in the recycling bin.”

“Next you will need to decide what type of landform or physical feature the image is. Then you will need to label it. To help you label the landforms there will be a collection of books about many different physical features found on our planet.”

“For example who can tell me which physical feature this book is about (I hold up an example of one of the books that will be available for the students to use at the work station table)?”

I select a student with their hand raised to respond to the question.

“That’s right Ava; this book is about volcanoes. What were the clues you used to figure that out?”

“Nicely explained; Ava told us she used the picture clue on the cover and the fact that the title started with the letter v which makes the /v/ sound like the word volcano.”

“There will be a number of books with landform images which you can use to get the labels you need.”

“I will use a checklist to go over your work. The checklist will ask me to see if you recognized the landform correctly. Then did the students label it correctly? Is the students work neat and tidy?”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some landform labeling fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

 Student working     Students working 1      Students working 2     Students working 3     Students working 4      Students working - film clip


Labeling items involves many skills that the students will use later on in different subjects. Becoming a proficient labeler helps promote good work habits through skills such: using books to research information, writing letters while recording the labels, and increasing vocabulary skills as the students discuss label choices with their table partners. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

 High student front.                           High student back.

Middle high student front.                 Middle high student back.

Middle student front.                         Middle student back.

Struggling student front.                   Struggling student back.

Once all of the students are seated on their spots on the rug I tell them, “Your exit ticket for today is to tell me a landform you would like to see when you go travelling around the world. For example if I pulled out my fair stick I would say, “A volcano is a landform I would like to see.””

I use the fair sticks to select the order in which the students will go.

Once the student has told me a landform they would like to see, they are free to go and use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack.

If the student is unable to give me a response they can do one of two things. They can:

  1. Ask a friend for help.
  2. Wait until everyone is gone and we will come up with an answer together.

Closing - exit tickets 

Using this easy formative assessment tool gives me an opportunity to see if a student can quickly recall one feature from the story or the activity. The students have all just worked on landforms and physical features so it should not be difficult for the students to respond to this request. However, if a student does have a hard time coming up with a response I will take note because I need to find out if the student had difficulty because he/she has trouble holding information or if the student was not paying attention to either the story or the activity. Knowing the answer to this question will determine how I handle the situation. 


For this activity I use a Land form Labeling Checklist. to go over the student’s work. The checklist serves two purposes. First, the checklist helps me stay focused on what I am looking for in the student’s work which shows me whether the student has met the objectives set for the assignment. If the student does not meet the objectives then I know I need to re-teach the lesson in a different way to the student during a small group session or one-on-one.

Secondly the checklist helps convey information to the student’s family about how well their child is doing in the classroom.

The student may also go over the checklist to see where they did well and see what areas they could improve on.

Once the checklist is complete I can attach it to the students work and place it in his/her collection portfolio.   

Discussing student landform label work.


At another station the students make salt dough maps where they try to replicate the Chesapeake Bay. Blue dough equals water, Pink the valleys and shore lines, and green dough is the hills and mountains. Provide the students with a state outline which has color coded areas for the students. This gives the students a 3D visual understanding of their state.