Types of Landforms: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

From a tall mountain to a low plain, the earth has many different and interesting types of landforms. Let's learn about some of the most common ones in this lesson on landforms.

What are Landforms?

The earth is a very big place! And it has many different types of land on it. For instance, you might one day climb a tall mountain like Mount Everest or visit an island like Fiji or see hundreds of green stalks of corn planted on a wide, open plain.

Mountains, islands, and plains are all types of landforms. A landform is a natural physical feature on the earth's surface. Let's learn about some landforms and see which ones are new to you and which ones you already know about.

High Landforms

Some landforms rise way above the land around them. Mountains are the tallest landform, at least 1,000 feet above the surrounding land. Mountains usually have steep sloping sides and often come to a point at the top, while others are more round at the top.

The tallest mountain in the world is Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. It begins underwater and rises to a whopping 33,474 feet tall from bottom to top.
Mauna Kea

Hills also rise above the land, but are not as tall as mountains. Their tops are usually rounded instead of pointed. Perhaps you have slid down a snowy hill on your sled, or might one day like to!

A third kind of tall landform is a plateau. This is pronounced 'platt' 'toe', like the toes on your feet. A plateau is very flat on the top, like a plate or table. It is made in an interesting way: by forces inside the earth pushing big areas of rock and land upward.

Low Landforms

Some lower landforms are plains, valleys, and canyons. A plain is a flat, wide open space. Most big cities are built on plains since it's easier to build on flat land, and plains near rivers are excellent places to grow crops like corn and wheat.

Flat plains can sometimes go on for miles and miles, making them seem almost endless.

A valley is that low space between two mountains or hills. A valley formed by a river or stream makes a V-shape, meaning if you look at its steep sides and narrow bottom, it looks like a V. Other valleys were formed long ago by glaciers and are in a U-shape with a rounded bottom.

Have you heard of the Grand Canyon? It is a large landform in the Southwestern United States that has deep, narrow valleys, steep cliffs, and layers and layers of rock. When you study the rock layers in a canyon, you can tell how the canyon was formed over millions of years.

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