Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

Second Grade - Geography - Lesson 6


Identify the following geographical features: mountain, valley, desert, oasis, prairie, plateau, river.

Classify geographical features as land or water features.

Locate geographical features on a map of the United States.

Suggested Books - The following books contain photographs and illustrations of the geographical features studied in this lesson.

Dvorak, David. A Sea of Grass: The Tallgrass Prairie. New York: Macmillan, 1994. - Beautiful photographs of the prairie and the wildlife that lives there.

Locker, Thomas. Where the River Begins. New York: Dial, 1984.

Peters, Lisa Westberg. Good Morning, River! New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990.

Rius, Maria and J.M. Parramon. Let's discover: the mountains. New York: Barron's, 1986. - Nice illustrations of mountains and valleys with simple text.

Siebert, Diane. Mojave. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1988.

Simon, Seymour. Deserts. New York: Morrow, 1990. - Wonderful photographs of deserts and plateaus.


Classroom size map of the United States

Dittos of geographical features

Geographical features listed on sentence strips


Show the children a picture of a mountain (from one of the suggested sources listed above or another with which you are familiar) and write the word mountain on the board . Ask a child to identify what the picture shows. Discuss how we know that the picture shows a mountain. Tell the children that mountains are the tallest and steepest places in the world. Say: Two different mountain ranges that we have learned about are the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. Ask: Can someone tell me where the Rocky Mountains are located? (the western part of the United States) Can someone tell me where the Appalachian Mountains are located? (the eastern part of the United States) Point out the mountain ranges to the children on a map of the United States.

Next, show the children a picture of a valley and write the word valley on the board. Tell the children that a valley is the land that lies between hills or mountains and is more or less flat and low land. Point out features that would help the children recognize a valley. For example, if you have a picture of mountains and a valley show the children that the valley is the low-lying land between the mountains. Tell the children that we have mountains in the western part of the state of Maryland. Ask: Has anyone ever been to the mountains in western Maryland? If yes, ask them to describe what they saw and what was different about the land in western Maryland from the area where they live.

While pointing to the southwestern area of the United States, tell the children that in the southwest part of the United States, there are areas where the land is very dry and covered with sand and/or rocks. These dry areas are called deserts. Show the children a picture of a desert and


Second Grade - Geography - Lesson 6

write the word desert on the board. Say: It doesn't rain very much in a desert, so water is hard to find. Show the children a picture of a desert and point out some of the characteristics of a desert,

such as the dry ground and sparse vegetation. Tell them that since water is hard to find it is very unusual to see a green spot in the desert because it is hard for plants to grow, but sometimes an

oasis can be found. An oasis is a green spot in a desert where the water flows up from an underground water spring.

Tell the children to imagine what a mountain would look like if it had a flat top. Show the children a picture of a plateau and write the word plateau on the board. Tell the children that a plateau is a place where the land rises sharply above the surrounding land with a flat top that looks like a table.

Remind the children that as they have been studying the pioneers and their travels westward, they have heard many stories that describe the different kinds of land that the pioneers found on their journeys. They traveled across mountains and rivers to areas that were covered with grass and did not have any trees. Write the word prairie on the board and tell the children that an area of grassland is called a prairie. Show the children a picture of a prairie. Since the pioneers traveled across the prairies in wagons, the wagons they traveled in were sometimes called prairie schooners because the wagons looked like sailboats or schooners as they sailed across a sea of grass, the prairie.

Tell the children that the geographical features we have talked about so far have had to do with the land. The last geographical feature we are going to talk about has to do with water and that is a river. Write the word river on the board. A river is a stream of water that flows through land. On the wall map name and trace the Mississippi River from north to south. Tell students that this is the longest river in the United States. Remind the students that we talked about the Mississippi River when we learned about the invention of the steamboat. Ask: Does anyone remember the name of the man associated with the steamboat? (Robert Fulton)

Write the geographical terms on pieces of sentence strip. The following game acts as a quick review and assessment of the geographical terms that were introduced in this lesson. Post on the board the enclosed photocopies of pictures showing geographical features. Read each term to the class and have a child come up, take the sentence strip, and match the term with the appropriate picture. Repeat with different children until the appropriate terms are posted under the appropriate pictures.


Second Grade - Lesson 7 - Literature/American Civilization/Geography Review


Review the geographical terms, characters from Tall Tales, and historical references from this month.


Answers written on sentence strips.


As a review of the topics covered in Literature, American Civilization, and Geography this month, play the following matching game with the children. There is an option to play one of two ways. The first in pairs, using one set of answer strips. The second with two teams and two sets of the same answer strips.

If playing with the children in pairs, pass out an answer strip to each pair of children. Read the clues to the class and the pair of children with the matching answer should stand. If playing with two teams, split the class in half. Give each child from the first team an answer strip. Then give each child from the second team an answer strip from the second set of answer strips. Read a clue and a child with the matching answer from each team should stand. Decide which team responded first and award a point to that team.


Clues and answers

Two teams worked to make me. One came from the east, one from the west. They joined me with gold. (The Transcontinental Railroad)

I'm the best cowboy there ever was. I taught all the others to rope and wrestle. (Pecos Bill)

If you want a letter delivered I'm the one for you. I can get it there through snow and rain and across the desert. (The Pony Express)

Some people say I'm just a big ditch, but I make it easy to get to the Mississippi from the Hudson River. (The Erie Canal)

Long wagon trains snaked their way across the country on me. (Oregon Trail)

I delivered books as well as fruit. I was friendly to everyone, animal or human. (Johnny Appleseed)

People said that when I was chopping trees you could hear my ax three states away. (Paul Bunyan)

I think that machines are fine. They just aren't as important as people. I beat that steamdrill fair and square. ( John Henry)


Second Grade - Lesson 7 - Literature, American Civilization, and Geography Review

To run my boat you didn't need muscles or sails, just some boiling water. (Robert Fulton)

I am proud to say that my train was always on time. (Casey Jones)

People rode steamboats up and down me. Huge boats with paddles carried passengers on me. (The Mississippi River)

I am what would happen if Paul Bunyan sat on a mountain. (a plateau)

Sometimes when settlers tried to go over me their wagons fell over or a wheel broke. It's hard to say if it was harder going up or down me. (a mountain)

When the Erie Canal was dug, pioneers didn't have to climb over me anymore. (The Appalachian Mountains)

Pony Express riders had to travel over me on their way to California. The snow on the top of me made for a very cold trip. (The Rocky Mountains)

If you could travel across me by camel it would be a good idea because you won't find much water. (a desert)

Pioneers were happy to settle in me after the long trip on the Oregon Trail. They were happy to find flat, low land after crossing the mountains. (a valley)

Some people say I look like a sea of grass. They even say covered wagons look like sailboats or schooners as they travel across me. (a prairie)

I look out over the valley and The Rockies and the Appalachian are both types of me. (a mountain)

I am the longest river in the United States. (The Mississippi River)