Academic journal article Science and Children

Focusing on Earth's Features

Academic journal article Science and Children

Focusing on Earth's Features

Article excerpt

Understanding that different regions of Earth feature different landforms is an important goal for children. The Next Generation Science Standards ask that young students "use information and models to identify and represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area and where water is found on Earth" (NGSS Lead States 2013, p. 15). Older students are then asked to apply their understanding of different types of landforms to identify "what patterns of Earth's features can be determined with the use of maps" (NGSS Lead States 2013, p. 34). Allowing students to use both photographs and information presented through technology helps them begin to construct an understanding of these topics and use models to describe these concepts.

This Month's Trade Books

Our Earth By John Thomas Matthews ISBN: 978-0-7664-1455-6 Abrams Learning Trends 14 pages Grades K-2



Through vivid photographs, students are taken on journeys to locations such as the Arctic, a desert, mountains, and the savanna. Young learners can examine the photographs and determine different features they might see in a given region.

How Mountains Are Made By Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld Illustrated by James Graham Hale ISBN: 978-0-06-238203-0 HarperCollins 32 pages Grades 1-4



This book focuses on mountain formation and how to tell the age of mountains. This book also shows how the movement of continental plates is part of the mountain formation process. Additional information on mountain chains in the United States is provided.

By Christine Anne Royce

Christine Anne Royce ( is a professor at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.


Grades K-2: Where in the World?

Purpose To identify the features of the Earth and create a model of features that students can find in their local area.


Show students the cover of Our Earth and ask them to describe what this book might be about, based on the cover. The balloons and landforms on the cover may not be familiar to all children, so they may provide answers that are off-topic. To focus students' answers, ask them what they think the "brown things" are: "What do they look like? Are they similar to other things that you've seen?" If necessary, point out the mountains in the distance. Introduce the idea that the Earth has different regions and features by using the following prompts:

* To introduce the idea of regions, tell students that the brown objects are all rocks that are very old. Ask them, "Can you describe what you think this area would feel like if you were walking here? Focus on temperature, type of terrain, and humidity. How is this place the same as or different from an ocean area?"

* To introduce the idea of features, explain to students that the big rock around the edge of the cover has been changed by the wind. Ask them, "What does this rock look like? Have you seen other parts of the Earth that look different? What are some of the different types of features you have seen in your local area?"

Turn the book over and ask students to look at the six pictures on the back. Ask them to describe what they see in the photos and try to determine whether each is a feature on the Earth or a region of the Earth. If it is a region, ask them to determine whether the region features either land or water.

Read the book aloud to students, allowing time for them to examine and discuss the pictures as you use guiding questions below.

* pp. 2-3: "Describe the region that you see here. What types of features do you see in the picture? If you had to make a prediction using the pictures of the animals about the type of weather in this area, what would it be?" Depending on the age level of your students, you may want to introduce the terms Arctic and glacier. …

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