Landform Review

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SWBAT define and create a simple model of given landform vocabulary terms.

Big Idea

Learning landform vocabulary can be a tall task! But we can tackle even the tallest mountain by practicing in a really fun way!

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

Watch the short video for an activity description and to preview the resources.

The children will be playing a game to help them review the landform vocabulary terms they have learned in this unit.  An interactive Google Slide show will be part of this review lesson.  The teacher will put the names of landforms in a "hat" and a student will draw one out.  Then the class will make that land formation out of clay and write its definition on a personal white board.

NGSS/Common Core Connections

In the NGSS the children need to be able to develop a model to represent the shapes and kind of land and bodies of water in an area.  This will be one of the building blocks to aid in that goal, since the children will be practicing the vocabulary terms of the common landforms. In addition, the children will be making very basic models with each of the landforms.


Playdoh or clay for each student--a handful, enough to make a small "mountain"

LandFORMation Game cards --just one set for the class, cut apart

whiteboard, marker and eraser for each student

Advanced Teacher Prep

Run a copy of the landform cards and cut apart.  The fold each one and put in a small container.

Literature Links

 What is a Landform? by Rissman


15 minutes

 I begin this lesson with a video to connect the real-life images to what we have been studying.

We will be watching a beautiful video today which highlights every landform that we have studied about.  Nature is amazing and this video captures that power.  As we are watching, I want you to be thinking about the landforms that you see.  If you see one that you know, you may whisper its name softly.  Please remember to just softly whisper it, since we want to enjoy the beauty of nature uninterrupted.

In this video the children will be awakened by seeing the most fabulous imagery and video of nature's landforms.  It is a 13 minute wordless video that is just breathtaking.  (Note:  There is a box that sits at the bottom of the screen the whole time that invites you to follow the artist on facebook, just click the X to remove it).

My intent by having the children view this video is for them to see what landforms look like out in nature.  I love the way this video adds movement and views from different angles.  It really makes each landform come to life in a way that a still photograph cannot do.  I think it is important for the children to see the landforms from this perspective in order to truly understand and appreciate them.

Group Practice

25 minutes

For the next part of the lesson, I have the students remain in their seats.  They will be making things out of Play-doh and writing so it is easier to be at their desks.  I pull up the LandFORMation Game, an interactive Google slide presentation, on the Smartboard.

Now that you have had the chance to see nature's landforms up close, we are going to be playing a game called the LandFORMation Game.  It's called the LandFORMation game since we are going to be forming each of the landforms.  We will also be practicing the vocabulary that we have learned by writing definitions.

For this game each of you are going to need a piece of Play-doh, a whiteboard, marker and an eraser.  

I pass out the Play-doh to each student.  We keep the whiteboard and supplies at their desks, so they just have to pull them out. For directions on how to play the game, click here.  

Please note:  I do not do anything with the actual points.  The kids keep their own points on an honor system.  At the end, I simply ask about their points.  Such as "If you were able to get over 20 points raise your hand.  Who got over 30 points?"  and so on.  The reward of this game was not accumulating the points, but the accumulation of knowledge.

Here is a short video explaining how to play the game to show the children.  You might want to show the video fullscreen so it is easier to see.  Just click the four arrow button on the lower right-hand side.

We go on ahead and play the game.  The children love it because it combines playing with Play-Doh and fun.  What they hardly realize is that they are learning and practicing vocabulary.  They don't even complain about having to write the definitions for each of the landforms.  I notice that the children who have a bit of trouble with the definitions are "pros" at end by the end of the session, since they get lots of practice with the same landforms repeated over again and again.  They are also getting practice at making models.  They are very simplistic, but none-the-less, are indeed models.  


5 minutes

To wrap-up we review the major components of the lesson.

Today we played a really fun game.  You had the opportunity to practice making landforms.  Who can tell me what do we call it when we represented a landform by making it out of Play-doh? (modeling) Why do you think I had you make models?  How was this helpful to you?

I want them to be able to relate the idea that making models can help you understand something more clearly or it can be used to show the understandings that you already have.  For example, while the children were making volcanoes, they had to show some of the main attributes of the volcano.  In doing so, it also led to the a greater understanding of what some of the main parts of a volcano are--such as it looks similar to a mountain but has an opening in the center and it has steep sides. So even though they made simplistic models, they were still practicing the idea that models are typically smaller versions of the real thing.

Also we practiced the definitions of the landform terms.  Since they had repeated practice of some of the same terms, the definitions became ingrained in their brains.  

Do you think writing the definitions of the landform vocabulary was helpful?  Why or why not?

I think it also helps if the children are able to be cognizant of their learning and the purpose of a lesson.  They have done a great job today.  Fun and learning are a great combination!