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Exploring Landforms

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A WebQuest for 2nd Grade about Landforms and Maps

Designed by:  Zach King





This lesson was developed as part of a Lesley University Masters in Technology Education.  I currently teach 2nd grade at Longfellow Elementary in Sheboygan, WI.

This second grade Social Studies WebQuest engages students in learning more about landforms and human settlements through an array of activities.  Students will investigate landforms through video, texts, and internet sites.  Student's final project will be to create a 3-D or drawn map that demonstrates their knowledge of landforms and the importance of human resources.





This WebQuest is intended for second grade, but could also be adapted to third or fourth grade by adding a full report or having students create a more sophisticated final map.

This lesson is geared towards further developing student's map skills while gaining knowledge of general landforms.  Participating students should have previous experiences in reading maps and should be familiar with some general map components:  Compass rose, directions, map keys, symbols, and an understanding that maps are a view from above (helicopter view).  Students will also have to have some prior knowledge about Pioneer travel during the 1800's.




Wisconsin Model Academic Standards Social Studies


A. Geography: People, Places, and Environments


Content Standard: Students in Wisconsin will learn about geography through the study of the relationships among people, places, and environments.

A.4.2 Locate on a map or globe physical features such as continents, oceans, mountain ranges, and land forms, natural features such as resources, flora, and fauna; and human features such as cities, states, and national borders.

A.4.4 Describe and give examples of ways in which people interact with the physical environment, including use of land, location of communities, methods of construction, and design of shelters.


Wisconsin Model Academic Standards English


Standard B: Writing Performance Standards


Content Standard: Students in Wisconsin will write clearly and effectively to share information and knowledge, to influence and persuade, to create and entertain.

B.4.1 Create or produce writing to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

  • Write nonfiction and technical pieces (summaries, messages, informational essays, basic directions, instructions, simple reports) that convey essential details and facts and provide accurate representations of events and sequences.

Standard E: Media & Technology


Content Standard: Students in Wisconsin will use media and technology critically and creatively to obtain, organize, prepare and share information; to influence and persuade; and to entertain and be entertained.

E.4.1 Use computers to acquire, organize, analyze, and communicate information.

  • Operate common computer hardware and software
  • Use basic word-processing, graphics, and drawing programs


F.4.1 Conduct research and inquiry on self-selected or assigned topics, issues, or problems and use an appropriate form to communicate their findings.




You are a pioneer who has been traveling for five months and it is finally time to find a place to build your new home.  You traveled to this destination to find better land and resources, so make sure you choose a good location to start your new life.  You will work with a partner to research landforms and then create a 3-D or drawn map of your new settlement by using a sand table, the computer's Kid Pix draw program, or a paper drawing.  You will then present your final project to the class.  Your partner and you will also have to defend your settlements location by writing a paragraph that describes the surrounding landforms (3-5) and why you chose to live at this location.   Remember that you have traveled a long way and so your new place to live should be just like you dreamed it when you left in your wagon train! 





1.  Your teacher will introduce you to the online WebQuest and show you how you will be using it.  You will be given a partner to share a computer with and to help each other complete most of the activities.  You will need to print out the "Activities Checklist" as an outline for the activities that you will be completing.  Link to Activities Checklist

2.  You will now have the chance to show what you already know about maps and landforms.  Use crayons to complete a simple Land and Water map.  You can print it our by clicking below or your teacher will provide you with a paper copy.  Note to the teacher (worksheet was taken from Harcourt Social Studies series so it can not be duplicated via the Internet.  Any simple map of where student can color land green and water blue will work for this pretest),

3.  Today we will watch the video "All about Land Formations".  Your teacher will stop the video as each new landform is shown so that you can write down definitions and draw pictures of the landforms.  You can print off you note taking sheet by clicking on the link below. Link to All About Land Formations

4.  It is now your job to learn more about landforms by using the internet sites provided below as well as the library books in your classroom.  You will print out the "Landform Dictionary" worksheets (by clicking on the link below) to use to draw pictures and write words on for each landform listed.  Please use the back of the sheets to find 5-7 other landforms that we have not learned about yet. Link to Landform Dictionary Work Page

5.  Today you will take part in a class discussion to review why Pioneers traveled west.  Please use the linked worksheet below to take notes on what landforms and resources you will want to include on your final project.  You will need to print off the "Resources Notes" link below.  Link to Resource Notes Work Page

6.  It is time for you to create your final project!  Please discuss the final project choices with your partner and choose one together.  You can create your settlement using a 3-D sand table, with Kid Pix on the computer, or on drawing paper.  When making your map, you will need to represent 3-5 different landforms and show were you would build you house as well.  You will most likely want to use your worksheets as a guide.  Do not be afraid to ask your teacher for any extra supplies that you want to complete your project. 

7.  After completing your final project you will need to get ready to present your map to your class.  You will need to write one paragraph that describes the 3-5 landforms on your map and the surrounding resources that are needed to help you start your new life.  You may also include a map key if it helps to explain your map.




The final project could be turned into a report for upper grades.  A PowerPoint presentation could be created to show the development the student's new settlements.  Instead of partners, students could be grouped in 3's or 4's and then each student could be responsible for completing one of the specific tasks.







Earth from Space - Search Earth Landscapes

*Allows students to look at satellite pictures of real landforms around the world.  Students are also provided with an in-depth description of the landform and its location.


Landforms Face of the Earth

*Provides students with pictures and great information on seven basic landforms.


Landforms Glossary - EnchantedLearning.com

*This site contains definitions and drawings for over 50 landforms.


NASA - Students Activities Land Formations

*This website provides a drawing of a landscape with over ten landforms.  Students can click on the landforms to learn more about them and see satellite pictures of each landform.

The Place to Discover World Landforms - Good Pictures

*This site has easy to read and short definition for over 50 landforms.  Students can click on each landform and find pictures and U.S. examples.


Types of Land

*This website shows a map of the US and the basic landscapes and landforms of our countries regions. When students click on each landform they get more information and names of famous landforms.


Basic Resources:


  • Computers:  I will be using a set of 10 Ibooks that are linked to printers in my school.  A stationary lab could be used instead.
  • Software:  KidPix and an Internet browser
  • VCR and TV
  • Teachers and Educational Assistants:  While using computers with youngsters it is always helpful to have as many extra hands around as possible.
  • Worksheets and printables:  (PROVIDE SECOND LINKS FOR ALL WORKSHEETS HERE)




All about land formations. Series in Earth science for children ; [v.4].Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, c2000. 

Summary:        Examines various kinds of land formations including canyons, deserts, and mountains and the forces that helped to create them. Includes hands-on activities.


All about weathering & erosion. Series in Earth Science for Children.Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 2000.  Video

Summary:        The surface of the Earth has undergone many changes over its history. Natural forces such as wind, rain, temperature and the activity of living things continually shape the visible landscape. In All about Weathering & Erosion, children will discover how these forces combine to form the Earth's features. Examine the different forms of physical and chemical weathering that affect the Earth, while touching on both the problems and benefits that erosion has on the people who inhabit the land.




Adams, George Finiel, 1907. Landforms. New York: Golden Press, 1971.

Arnold, Caroline. Land masses. New York: F. Watts, 1985.

Summary:        An introduction to the fundamentals of geography with emphasis on the characteristics of the different kinds of land masses found on this earth. Includes instructions for related projects and activities.


Carlisle, Norman V., 1910. The true book of rivers. Chicago:  Children's Press, 1967.  

Summary:        Discusses rivers by describing where they begin, how we use them, and how they change the land.

May, Julian. The land is disappearing. Mankato, Minn: Creative Educational Society, 1972.          

Summary:        Describes the shaping and erosion of land by natural forces.

O'Neill, Catherine, 1950. Natural wonders of North America. Series in Books for world explorers .Washington, D.C: National Geographic Society, c1984.




Link to Rubric




Using technology in a second grade classroom stimulates large amounts of student motivation.  The use of this WebQuest will help to keep students on task as well as provide them with an organized layout of the activities.  The format of this WebQuest allows students to work at their own pace.  The websites that students will be accessing will extend their learning beyond basic landforms that are presented in our textbooks, videos, and school library books.




As I am only in my second year of teaching second grade, I owe much of my Social Studies knowledge bases and lesson plans to my second grade colleagues:  Claire Provancher, Melissa Anderson, Lynette Pittner, Juli Shaw, and Tina Duwell.  Claire Provancher created the "All About Landforms" worksheet to go along with the video.


This page was last updated on 03/09/2007
Please email questions or comments about this site to: zking@sheboygan.k12.wi.us
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Longfellow Elementary School 819 Kentucky Avenue Sheboygan, WI 53081