Landforms Near Bodies of Water: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson will take you on a trip to the seashore, where you will learn to spot many different landforms that can be found next to the ocean. Read on to find out about tombolos, spits, and other landforms.

A Walk on the Beach

If you were to take a trip to the seashore, a walk along the beach would show you many landforms unique to the land near the ocean. A landform is a naturally occurring feature on the surface of the Earth.

Beach
beach

Scientists study landforms so they can see how the Earth has changed over time. They also use what they know about Earth's landforms to help them understand the history of other planets. The study of landforms is called geomorphology, which is pronounced GEE-oh-mor-FOL-oh-gee.

Landforms Near the Ocean

As you take your walk along the ocean, you may see these landforms:

Coast

Where land meets the ocean is a landform called the coast. Some coasts are rocky, some have steep cliffs, and others have sandy beaches.

Beach

A beach is a sandy or rocky area next to a body of water.

Sea Cave

A large hole in the side of a rocky cliff next to the water is called a sea cave. These may be formed by the waves hitting the cliff over and over, causing it to erode, or wear away.

Peninsula

When a piece of land juts out into the water from the coast, and is surrounded by water on three sides, it's called a peninsula.

Coral Reef

A reef is a piece of rock or coral that is found just below the surface of water off a coast. A coral reef is made up of coral, which are tiny animals that live in shells. Their shells attach together, along with stones, to form the reef.

Atoll and Lagoon

An atoll is a reef that is in the shape of a ring. Inside the atoll is a shallow body of water called a lagoon. A lagoon is separated from the sea by sand dunes or by another barrier.

Beach Cusps and Horns

When a wave comes onto the beach, it only goes so far onto the sand. The edge where the wave stops is called a beach cusp. When waves come into rocky beaches, they may move the rocks around, forming ridges. These ridges are called beach cusp horns.

Bight

If you look at a map of the coast, you'll see that it's rarely straight. It pushes into the land or juts out into the ocean, forming a ragged edge. A bight (pronounced ''bite'') is a long bend in the coastline that forms a bay, or a sheltered area of water. Inside of a bight, the water is usually shallow.

Bight
bight

Spit

A spit is made when sand accumulates just a little bit off the coast. These accumulations of sand form parallel to, or in the same direction as, the coast.

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