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Maps, Models, and More


The purpose of this activity is to create a three-dimensional model of natural physical features of the earth. The model will display examples of landforms and bodies of water, giving the student an opportunity to learn and demonstrate an understanding of the vocabulary and concepts that describe and explain our world.

The model created must meet these criteria:

  • It must be completed in class with 2 or 3 group members in the time scheduled.
  • It must be constructed on foam core or corrugated cardboard base 15" × 21" in size.
  • It must be entirely constructed by students, except for small items approved by the teacher that enhance student-made features.
  • Physical features on the model must be formed, NOT just named.
  • There must be a minimum of 20 different landforms, including hill, mountain, plateau, and plain with the remaining 16 chosen by students.
  • There must be a minimum of seven different bodies of water, such as river, lake, harbor, and gulf, all of which are chosen by the student.
  • Care and creativity must be clearly demonstrated in the crafting of the model.

Daily cleanup of all materials and return of all equipment are required before dismissal of class. Including more than the minimum number of features is recommended. Sometimes a feature is not clearly identified or is or not correctly labeled, therefore an extra feature or two can make a difference in the final score.

The model must be an imaginary place, although specific places in the world can be used as guides for planning. The model will NOT copy the landform diagram in the book or any other teaching materials in the classroom.

Before constructing the model, students will submit a preliminary sketch map proposing the physical features to be included and brainstorming craft materials to be used. Responsibility for bringing materials should be discussed and agreed upon in the group.

A group participation grade measuring each student's ability to work cooperatively will be taken. Any member failing to demonstrate an ability to work well with others and concentrate on the assignment will complete independently (alone) an assignment determined by the teacher. Students absent from class one or more work days must complete the model alone.

Materials to complete the model will be provided by both the teacher and students as follows:

  • The teacher will provide a limited quantity of colored construction paper.
  • Students will provide foam core or corrugated cardboard for the base, a plastic grocery bag for storing supplies, extra sheets of colored construction paper and brown paper grocery bags for modeling, personal scissors and other equipment for convenience, and miscellaneous items to appropriately enhance the model.

Neither glitter nor paint is allowed. Clay should be used only in small amounts and drying time should be considered. Tape and "sticky stuff" work well to attach model pieces to the base. The model can be entirely constructed from paper attached to the base.

Before turning in your work, please assess your model against the grading guide printed on the reverse side of this page. Have you completed the assignment? Is your work prepared with pride? Can you improve your model? Have you included extra water bodies or landforms?

Please note: This is a major grade for the marking cycle. Carefully consider the importance of attending class every day of the activity and applying yourself diligently and creatively. The grading guide is included on the reverse side of this page for your review.

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