Sunday, May 19, 2013

Relief Maps

For Social Studies in fourth grade, our curriculum focuses on the regions of the United States. Our last region is the West (where we live) and I wanted to do something different and fun as we're all getting ancy for the end of the year. I decided to do relief maps with the students so they could learn more about their state's natural features and elevation.

I first cut pieces of cardboard (I used the sides of medium cardboard boxes), then traced the outlines of the states using the projector.

Instead of clay (because it's expensive) I made salt dough. It can be a bit messy to make, but is so much cheaper and is still easy for the students to use. I used a very simple recipe

1 part salt
2 parts flour
2 parts warm water

Mix the salt and flour together, then add the warm water until the consistency seems right. Knead for a while (if you knead longer it makes the dough easier to work with).

The first day, I had students simply research their state's features - they needed to find mountain ranges, peaks, valleys, rivers, lakes, plateaus, etc. I just gave them a blank map of their state and had them draw them on and label as they researched. Then they were ready to build.
You can bake these, but I didn't figure they needed to last for years, so we just let them dry for a night or two before painting.
Some were more accurate than others...
Students were to paint depending on elevation. They didn't need to know the exact elevation, just what was low, middle, high, and the mountain peaks. They also made a simple map key with this information.

Finally, the students added some labels to their maps and they were finished. I graded them the next day, because I wanted the students to take them home!! After almost a week, I finally have my reading corner back. :)

If you're interested in doing the project with your students, feel free to download the rubric below.


1 comment:

  1. As a future social studies teacher, this idea is super cute! I will definitely be borrowing this when my kiddos learn about relief maps in geography. I am sure your kiddos loved it!

    I am also your newest follower :)
    - Kendra
    The Social Student Teacher