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    Some ideas
    By JohnV

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    For land forms:

    Take a topographic map that has the land forms you want to teach. Make an enlarged transparency of the contours. Use an overhead projector to project the contours on the wall at whatever scale you want. Trace the contours onto sheets of styrofoam, one layer for each contour interval, and cut them out. Stack the sheets up to make the land form. Now comes the MESSY part. Use a stiff brush to smooth down the model and take away the stairs look. These models can be painted and otherwise decorated in the same manner as model railroad terrain models. In fact, this is a good way to make model terrain for railroads.

    You can do the same kind of thing with corrugated cardboard, but instead of smoothing it down with a stiff brush, cover it over with papier mache.

    Make a center with a pan full of sand. Let the students make land forms out of the sand. If you have a digital camera, they can use it to document what they make before going on to the next land form.

    If you donít mind letting students write on their hands (you can also have them use something that washes off), the fist provides a model for several terrain features. Make a fist. The last knuckles form a ridge-line with hill tops, between each two knuckles is a saddle, between each two fingers is a valley or gorge, and the back of the hand is a gently sloping hill/mountainside. Use a pen to draw contour lines around these fingers, then flatten your hand out to form a flat map to show how the lines are printed on paper. This model comes from the Boy Scout Handbook, 10th ed, page 184-185.

    For latitude and longitude:

    Take students outside on a paved area. Have them draw a grid on the pavement with sidewalk chalk and mark it. Put chalk letters (or objects like stuffed toys) at pre-determined locations on the grid. Have students write the coordinates for some of the letters. For other letters, tell them the coordinates to go to and record the letter located there. Let them do lots of practice. If you have room, you can even make more than one grid.

    Once students are familiar with using a grid, explain that lat/long is sort of like wrapping the earth in a grid. Give them a ball (or a ROUND balloon) and have them mark the Prime Meridian and the Equator on it. Then have them fill in the rest of the lines and number them. Have them write letters at coordinates you give them to evaluate.

    Hope you can use some of these. If your land forms unit includes the forces that build them, like erosion, plate tectonics, etc., I have ideas for those also.


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