Thursday, November 09, 2006

Topography of a Continent

Today we did a fun topography project. We made topographical maps of the continent of Africa. I was working w/my 3 special needs kids and a kindergartener so I did some of the prep work for them. I also needed to help them spread the glue around effectively and for the mountains, I tore the clay into small pieces for them so they could just pick up a piece and mold it into the right shape. My older boys (9 yo's) could have done this fairly independently, though. I've decided to describe how we did the project here and highly recommend it.

Goals:
1. Be able to visualize the topography of a land mass.
2. Understand the relationship between a map and its key.

Supplies Needed:
Light-weight cardboard
Black marker
pencil
blue colored pencil or crayon
different colored sand
different colored clay (playdough or sculpy would work too)
white piece of paper
glue stick

Directions:
First, I gathered up pieces of cardboard and traced the African continent in black Sharpie on each piece. Then I wrote in the names of the oceans and seas surrounding the land mass.

Next, I had them color in all the oceans and seas with a blue crayon or colored pencil (the crayons worked better on the cardboard).

Next we did the rivers. I outlined in pencil the rivers for them and they followed the path of the rivers with glue sticks. Then they covered the glue with blue sand (I happened to have a bunch of colors left over from a craft project we did last year) and shook off the excess.

Next we did the deserts. I outlined in pencil where the deserts should go and they filled in my outlines w/glue and then a couple used yellow sand and a couple used orange sand. Then shake off the excess sand.

Next we did the rain forests. I outlined the boundaries of the rainforests and they covered in the outlined areas with green clay flattened onto the cardboard.

Next we did the mountains. I outlined the boundaries of the mountain ranges and they made little mountain peaks out of clay and covered the outlined areas w/them.

Last we did the plains (which we should have done before the mountains and rain forests). I outlined the plains in pencil and they filled in with glue and then colored sand.

Finally we cut out small white pieces of white paper and made a key for their maps. I wrote the words on the paper w/the marker and drew a little circle next to each word. It looked something like this:

Key:
Mountains
Plains
Rain Forests
Deserts
Rivers

They glued the paper to the cardboard somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and then put a small clay mountain next to the mountains label, a small circle of colored sand next to each one which used sand and a small circle of flattened clay next to the rain forests.

It was loads of fun -they really enjoyed it. You could use all sand or all clay too. They clay looked neat b/c it really added a nice texture to it and I wanted them to understand the basic topography of a land mass. I also wanted them to understand how the key is connected to what they see on the map. They really got those two points and understood it. Realistically, all four of the maps turned out differently in terms of the colors they used but also there were some misplaced rivers, absent mountains and rambling deserts. That didn't matter to me so much as them understanding our two goals.

Here's the pics:

Miriam's AfricaBetsy's Africa
Ruth's Africa

Philip's Africa

1 comment:

Muffy said...

Dear Miriam, Betsy, Philip and Ruth, Good job on your topography project. I don't think mine would have turned out quite as nicely. Love, Muffy