Recall and define the following terms: peninsula, harbor, bay, island, coast, boundary, valley, desert, prairie, plateau.
Recognize the following geographical water features: delta, isthmus, strait, channel, reservoir.
Classroom-size world map
Classroom-size U. S. map
Geographical feature dittoes (included)
Baker, Sanna Anderson. Mississippi Going North. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Comp., 1996. (0-8075-5164-3)
This beautifully illustrated picture book tells about the sights and sounds experienced by a family as they travel north on the Mississippi in a canoe.
This lesson refers to information included in this month's history lessons, so this lesson should be taught after the history lessons are completed.
Tell the students that although the Spanish explorers de Soto and Coronado did not find the riches they were searching for, they both discovered two important geographical features in the United States. Ask: What is the name of the geographical feature that de Soto found? (the Mississippi River) Coronado? (the Grand Canyon)
Review with the students other geographical terms that were discussed in this month's history lessons and from past grades. Show the students the geographical features on the classroom size U. S. or world maps as you ask the questions.
Peninsula: Ask: What present-day state in the southeastern United States is a peninsula? (Florida) What is the definition of a peninsula? (A piece of land that extends out into a body of water.)
Isthmus: Direct the student's attention to the world map. Point to the country of Panama. Ask: Is the country of Panama a peninsula? (no) Why? (Because it is attached to land on two sides.) Tell the students that a piece of land that joins two larger pieces of land is called an isthmus. Write the term on the chalkboard. The country of Panama is an isthmus that joins North America to South America.
Bay and harbor: Direct the student's attention to the U. S. map and the state of Maryland. Tell the students that the Atlantic Ocean has an inlet in between the western and eastern shores of Maryland. Ask: What is that body of water called? (the Chesapeake Bay) Explain that part of the bay near the city of Baltimore is referred to as Baltimore Harbor. Ask: Has anyone ever visited the National Aquarium or the Maryland Science Center? Explain that both of these places are located by the Baltimore Harbor. Explain the difference between a bay and a harbor. A bay is an inlet of the ocean that is partly surrounded by land and a harbor is the part of a bay that is along the shore and is deep enough for a ship to enter and anchor.
Island: Ask: What is the definition of an island? (An area of land that is surrounded by water.) Display the classroom-size world map. Direct the class' attention to the islands south of the United States. Tell the students that these islands are located in the Caribbean Sea.
Coast: Tell the students that the coast is land that is next to a sea, and is also called the seashore. Ask: On which coast of the United States do we live? (east or the Atlantic)
Boundary: Direct the student's attention to the classroom U. S. map. Ask: What states share a border or boundary with Maryland? (Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and Virginia)
Next, ask the students to recall the following land features: valley, desert, prairie, plateau. Show the students each of the included pictures of geographic land features, asking them to identify the type of land shown. You may wish to provide hints such as, notice the land shown is at the base of the mountains (valley). Also, ask the students to point out some of the characteristics of each land feature shown, e. g. desert - cactus, prairie - flat grasslands.
Valley: The low land between mountains or hills.
Desert: A land area having little or no moisture or vegetation.
Prairie: An area of flat grassland.
Plateau: A flat-topped piece of land that rises sharply above the surrounding land (looks like a table).
Tell the students that the features we just looked at were land features. They are now going to learn about some geographical features that are water features. As they are discussed, write the name and definition of each water feature on the chalkboard.
Ask: What is the longest river in the United States? (the Mississippi River) Explain that when we learned about de Soto's discovery of the Mississippi River, we talked about the different parts of the river. Have a student locate the Mississippi River on a U. S. map. Ask the students to recall that the beginning of the river is called its source and the place where the river empties into a larger body of water is called its mouth. Ask: What body of water does the Mississippi River empty into? (the Gulf of Mexico) Have a student locate the Gulf of Mexico on the map.
Explain that another feature they will find as part of large river such as the Mississippi is a delta. Write the word delta on the chalk board. Explain that the delta of a river is where sand and soil are deposited by a river at its mouth. Ask: In which state is the mouth of the Mississippi River located? (Louisiana) Since the mouth of the Mississippi River is in Louisiana, the Mississippi Delta is also located in Louisiana.
Tell the students that large rivers like the Mississippi make it possible to travel by boat in the interior of a country or state. Direct the students' attention to the Mississippi River on the U. S. Map. Trace the path of the Mississippi and name each state that the Mississippi passes through. Tell the students that the Mississippi makes travel by boat to these places possible. Explain that another water feature that makes travel by boat possible is something called a channel. A channel is the deepest part of a river, harbor, or other waterway. A channel can also be a body of water that connects two larger bodies of water. Ask a student to locate the country of England in Europe on the world map. Tell the students to notice that south of England there is a channel called the English Channel. The channel runs between England and France. Point out that if you follow the English Channel towards Belgium and the Netherlands you will notice that the channel narrows and its name changes to the Strait of Dover. Explain that a strait is a narrow channel.
Tell the students that the last water feature they are going to learn about is a reservoir. Explain that a reservoir is a place used to collect and store water. It looks something like a pond or a lake, but is special because its purpose is to store water. Some reservoirs store drinking water for communities. These reservoirs are protected so that we have a supply of clean drinking water. Ask: Why do you think we need to store water? (ready supply of water for drinking, household needs, watering gardens and crops) What would happen if there was a drought, not enough rainfall, and we didn't have a ready supply of water?
Review each of the new geographical water features with the class by stating the definition and calling on students to name the appropriate water feature.