Landforms, Geology & Life Activities for High School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a high school science or social studies teacher, one of your tasks is helping your students develop a better understanding of geography. This lesson offers activities that make learning about landforms, geology, and life more interesting for students.

Studying Landforms, Geology and Life

Whether you teach science or social studies to your high school students, chances are you will spend some time thinking about the nature of the Earth's surface and why it matters. This aspect of geography touches on themes related to landforms, basic geology, and life on Earth.

Many of these topics are deep and complex, and students who are motivated will continue to revisit them for years to come. Therefore, by making this kind of study engaging, you have a real chance to alter their educational journey.

One way to help students learn that geography can be really fascinating is to let them do activities as they work. The activities in this lesson appeal to different learning styles as you help students learn about landforms, geology, and life.

Landforms Activities

This section offers activities related to different kinds of landforms on Earth.

Terrain Models

Break students up into small groups for this activity, giving each group a large tub or aluminum bin to work with. Their job is to use clay to create a model of a specific kind of terrain from a given region on Earth.

Students should use toothpicks to create small flags to label the different landforms in their model. When the clay dries, they can add real water to rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Let students share their models and discuss their similarities and differences.

Illustrated Glossary

Here, you have an activity that will appeal to visual learners struggling to master geographic vocabulary. Students can work independently or with partners. They should each create a glossary of ten to 15 different vocabulary words related to landmarks.

For each word they include, they should also use an illustration or small image to help them remember the definition. Let students reference their glossaries throughout your ongoing geography work.

Geology Activities

The activities in this section will teach students more about the basics of geology.

Get to Know Your Area

This is a great activity for getting students out of the school building and focusing them on paying attention to your surroundings and environment.

Take your students on a walk around your school's neighborhood or, if possible, venture slightly further afield in your community. Ask students to pay attention to the surface of the Earth around them, making notes on what they notice. For instance:

  • Is everything they are seeing manmade, or can they make inferences about the geology of your neighborhood based on what they see?
  • What kinds of rocks and minerals are commonly found in your surroundings?
  • What do students know or notice about the soil and dirt they see?
  • How might this area have looked different several centuries ago, and how might it look different in another several decades?

When you get back to school, bring students together to discuss their observations and any newfound questions.

Rocks in Categories

Learning the different properties of different kinds of rocks is an important part of geology.

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