Student Created Landform Maps with Glacial Emphasis

Carlyn Wilson
Mississippi Elementary
Coon Rapids, MN
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Initial Publication Date: August 22, 2008


Summary: This activity focuses on landforms, specifically glacial landforms found in Minnesota. Students will work in groups to create a topographic map of a "park" which includes various landforms. The park must include a map key for landforms using location grid to pinpoint location (eg. section A2 - lake).

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Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to share in a hands-on way their landform knowledge (particularly those we see in MN). It also requires them to work in groups to cooperatively create a map of a park containing multiple glacial landforms. They will also share (oral presentation) their finished product with other students and ask and answer map reading questions.


Students will engage in map interpretation using a key.
The concepts of basic landforms will be reinforced.
We will focus on the interesting glacial history of Minnesota.


-Kettle lakes

Context for Use

This lesson is designed for second grade students in a regular education classroom with 24 students. They will be working in groups of 2 to 4. If the larger group size, I will assign group roles to keep kids engaged. It is intended to be an activity that follows group discussion of glacial landforms and practice using and reading maps, map keys, and location grids. We already cover map skills in our social studies curriculum and this activity allows me to integrate geology. I expect this activity will take two hours over a couple of days to complete.

Description and Teaching Materials

Our social studies curriculum includes some practice with map reading, map keys, and using the grid location system. I want to focus more specifically on landforms, particularly glacial landforms. To that end, I will need to develop my students background understanding of landforms, particularly glacial landforms. The Wikipedia URL I found helpful is: A book I want to use is called: Minnesota Underfoot by C.J. Sandome.

Student work: The students will draw landforms (with an emphasis on including glacial landforms) on a large rectangular map with a grid for location identifiers (A2, D4, etc.) They will need to identify the landforms in the map key.

Large size paper of pieces of butcher paper.

It could be done as a whole group activity or divide students into groups (2-4 students per group).

Closure would be sharing the student created park maps. Students could present their ideas and ask questions of their peers.

Teaching Notes and Tips

I think I'll have parent volunteers trace out the rectangular map grid with the letters and numbers across the top and down the sides so students don't have to do it.

Depending on your time limits, you can decide whether to have your students create the maps or to create one together as a whole group.

Also, don't assume your students have any background in landforms. Some have very few life experiences with landmarks beyond lakes.


Assess understanding as students present maps and answer questions about the landforms they included. Also student map keys will include landform vocabulary, particularly glacial landforms, and reasonable representations on their maps.


III.A.1 - Earth structure and processes

References and Resources