Regions of Arizona

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SWBAT create a topographical map of Arizona focusing on mountains, plateaus, deserts, canyons, and rivers.

Big Idea

To understand the effects weathering, plate tectonics, and erosion students will recreate a 3D map out of salt dough to see how drastic these events have shaped our state.

Reading about Regions

10 minutes

Before we begin creating and reading a map on our state's regions, we are going to read more about them. Students have a section about the regions in their Arizona History book. There are articles on the regions on the internet, and places to get maps that can be printed out to help with the lesson.

Student will read about the regions, as they do I give them some sticky notes to write down interesting facts about each region. We are then going to have a discussion going over the interesting facts that they found.

Identifying and Reading a Map

5 minutes

We are then going to take those interesting notes and try to see how they relate to the map of Arizona's regions. I want them to try to connect what they have read with the map representation. I might have to model how I can take what I read about a region and apply it to the map. For example, if a student has a note about the plateau region having the location of Northern Arizona, I then model how I would check to see if I can tell this on the map. This would be a fact that I can mark with a "C." The "C" confirms that the fact has been checked by the use of the map.

Before we begin the creation of our own map, I ask the students to just read and look at the map with me. I ask them to share with the class any interesting observations and if any of their observations can tie into what we have learned about erosion, watershed, or landforms. Students point out the Grand Canyon. I discuss the plateau. Students then begin to connect their learning of watersheds to the maps they made that had similar information on them. In particular, the high points and the possible low points that receive that water. 


Salt Dough Representation

30 minutes

The next part of the lesson is the most fun and messy. I give each student a 10 X12 piece of cardboard and a copy outline of Arizona. They will put their name at the top of the paper and glue it to the cardboard. The outline is what they will use as their guide so that they get a more accurate representation of the state. They will roll the doll and make sure it fits within the outline.

Students are then given a pre-measured bag of flour and salt. I model how I will pour a small amount of water into their bag and they will mix it by pushing on the bag. Dough should look like bread dough. Thick, but moist and easy to roll out. 

Before they begin, I place the regional map under the document camera. I also borrow a few students book and place them open around the room for reference. Students' hands will be too messy for finding these references as they work. I go over the expectations before they begin their mixing. I explain that they need their dough to fit inside the outline. They also need to, as accurately as possible, draw in the regions with a toothpick and any other land features. I remind them to try to include land features that are examples of weathering, erosion, or watersheds. I go over these two expectations again, and then show they how to place toothpicks in the three regions to label examples. 


I let students get to work and I walk around and pour the water into their bags. I consistently check on students. I offer help and also remind constantly what the expectations are. 

Finally Dry Follow Up

20 minutes

After about three days, the dough should be dry. Students will now need to color their maps using markers. I want them to color the plateau, mountain, and desert regions different colors. This way we can see the three regions clearly, they way map makers would. They will then use masking tap to wrap their toothpicks to label their important features within their map.