I believe it is very important for children to learn about the world in
which we live. I had recently heard about a college student whose friend
had been hurt, in Japan, so he was going to drive to Japan to see him!
This is the geographical knowledge of a college student? I want to help
students understand where things are in the world. This unit is designed
to do precisely that, by helping children to visualize and comprehend the
world as a unified whole, composed of several different parts: a holistic
approach to geography.
As a result of this unit, children should be able to locate and describe
major components of the Earth, both interior and exterior. They should be
able to describe and illustrate those structures, and explain the
formation of continents and other major physical features of the planet.
The unit begins with the rote learning of the names and locations of the
continents. The name and features of the layers of the Earth are also
learned at the beginning. These must necessarily precede the other lessons
as background knowledge. These are followed by three lessons on
Continental Drift Theory: the evidence for the theory, the history of it
and the theory itself, and the scientific recreation of the sequence of
events producing the modern continents. From there, volcanos, mountains,
and earthquakes can be explained and understood. Finally, for English
children, the formation of their own British Isles must not be overlooked.
Since this is a Church School, it seemed fitting to use a short Bible
reading as a motivational tool. I would use Genesis 1:9-10, in which it
states that God put all the land in one place, and the water in another.
"How could that be true, and our maps and globes be accurate?"
Africa | fossil
Antarctica | glacier
Asia | Gondwanaland
Atlantic Ocean | Ice Age
Australia | Laurentia
British Isles | lava
continent | magma
Continental Drift | mantle
core | North America
crust | Pacific Ocean
dome mountain | Pangaea
earthquake | plate
Europe | South America
fault-block mountain | Tethys Sea
folded mountain | volcano
Lesson #1: The 7 Continents
Monday,23 November, 1987 11.45-12.30
Children will be able to name the 7 continents.
They will be able to identify them when shown them on a world map.
They will be able to locate them when given the name.
Materials: 1.World map, 2.Globe, 3.Chart with outlines of the
continents, 4.Children's Geography notebooks and colored pencils,
5.Atlases and other reference books, 6.Papers with continents' names.
Ask "What is a continent?" (a large body of land, usually separated by
water, or by mountains in the case of the Ural Mts. separating Europe from
Point them out on the world map and globe, then give a brief
introduction to each:
Europe: contains England, France, Spain, Germany, etc.
Asia: mention Siberia, China, India
Africa: jungle, Sahara, Egypt
North America: USA, Canada, Mexico; across Atlantic Ocean
South America: Spanish and Portuguese languages, Indians, Brazil, Peru
(play Peruvian Inca song on guitar)
Australia: island, desert, kangaroos, koala; in Pacific Ocean
List names on the board, have children copy them in notebooks, practice
reciting ("Who can name them all?")
Children take turns coming up and pointing to a continent on the world
map, call on someone to name them. Answerer gets the next turn.
Same activity, but the child names the continent and calls on someone
to point to it.
Children use outline chart to make rough outlines of the continents in
their notebooks, color and label them (also Atlantic and Pacific Oceans).
For those who finish: they pick a continent at random by choosing a
slip of paper. They can then go to reference book(s) (atlas, encyclopedia)
and see how many facts not mentioned in class that they can find out about it.
Evaluation: All children should be able to participate in #4 & #5
above, and accurately label the continents in their notebooks.
Lesson #2: The Earth's Interior
Wednesday, 25 November 11.00-11.45
Children will be able to name and describe the 3 principle layers of
Children will understand the effects of the Earth's magnetism.
Materials: 1.Diagram of the inside of the Earth, 2.Children's
notebooks and colored pencils, 3.modeling clay, 4.bar magnet, 5.compass
Point out the 3 layers and describe each.
Crust: thin outer surface, about 40 miles deep, all continents and
oceans are here
Mantle: very thick middle layer, about 2,000 miles deep, 2000-4500°,
Core: center, some liquid and some solid due to pressure, iron and nickel
Explain that we know whether zones are solid or liquid by studying
earthquakes: shock waves travel differently.
Electric currents are produced in the liquid core. This produces a
magnetic field. That is why a compass works.
Children draw, color, and label the interior of the Earth in their
notebooks. Then they write something they learned about each layer.
Using the bar magnet and modeling clay, children begin to form a model of
the Earth. The 3 layers are done in 3 different colors. When built,
outlines of the continents can be carved into it. The magnet will simulate
the magnetic field produced by the Earth's core, and affect a compass.
This will take more than one day to complete.
To think about: "Nobody has ever been able to get through the crust of
the Earth. How, then, have we come to believe that the core is made up of
iron and nickel?" (to be answered the next day: meteorites)
Evaluation: All children should be able to list at least one or two
facts about each layer of the Earth.
Lesson #3:Continental Drift Evidence
Thursday,26 November 11.00-12.30
Children will be able to describe the significance of fossils with
regard to Continental Drift Theory.
Children will demonstrate the possibility of the initial breaking off
of continents by constructing their own hypothetical initial state of the
Materials: 1.Children's notebooks and pencils, colored pencils,
scissors, paste or tape, 2.Fossil and books about fossils and other
reference books, 3.Outline maps of continents
Ask "What is a fossil?" Show the fossil in class, and
pictures of fossils in books. Discuss what fossils are, where they came
from, and why they are important. Then discuss how the finding of similar
fossils on different continents is important to the theory.
Point out on the map how some of the continents seem to fit together
like a puzzle (most obviously, South America and Africa), and how that
seems to show that they must originally have been connected.
Children color each continent on the outline maps a different color and
cut them all out, then fit them together as they think they may originally
have been, and glue them in place.
Children draw the fossil shown in class, or one from a book, and write
what a fossil is.
Answer the following questions:
"How do fossils show that the continents used to be connected?"
"How do the shapes of the continents show that they used to be connected?"
Evaluation: The children's reconstruction should show one large
mass of land. They should be able to answer the questions in #5 above.
Lesson #4 Continental Drift Theory
Friday, 27 November 1.30-2.00
Objective: Children will be able to explain the history and
significance of Continental Drift Theory.
Materials: 1.Children's notebook and pencils, 2.Books about
Explain the historical background of the theory:
Before Columbus, all the land was thought to be in the same part of the
world. A controversy develops over the Earth's history:
Catastrophists believed there have been violent changes in the
structure of the Earth (these were mostly Christians).
Uniformitarians believed the Earth to be eternally unchanging.
Wegener in the 1920's proposed the Continental Drift Theory (which took
a half-century to gain popular acceptance).
The theory states that the continents are on 14 slowly-moving
plates (draw some on the chart of the continents), moving in
various directions. When they rub against each other, they can cause
earthquakes. Volcanos can also occur there. Plates can also crash into
Children write in their own words the origin and significance of the
theory, and what it states.
If they finish, they can read a book about Columbus, and explain how
his voyages changed the current world-view.
Evaluation: Children should be able to write at least one page
describing the theory and its origin.
Lesson #5: The Break-up of Pangaea
Monday, 30 November 11.45-12.30
Objective: Children will be able to demonstrate the scientists'
reconstruction of the sequence of the formation of the continents.
Materials: 1.Series of pictures showing the sequence of major
events, 2.Children's notebooks, pencils, colored pencils
Show and describe the principle phases:
All the continents form Pangaea (pan - "all, whole" + ge - "earth")
Pangaea splits into Laurentia to the north and Gondwanaland to the
south (named for locations of fossil finds), separated by the Tethys Sea
(formation of oil fields, later to become the Atlantic Ocean).
Laurentia and Gondwanaland break up into the modern continents as
eastern and western hemispheres form, Africa turns slightly, Antarctica
Greece, Italy, and India break off and move north to join Europe and Asia.
Children draw flow charts in notebooks, labeling and coloring the rough
locations of the continents at each stage, and writing captions under each
picture describing what is happening.
Those who finish early can see what they can learn from reference books
on the formation of oil, and write about it.
Evaluation: The flow chart in the notebooks should show the correct
sequence of events.
Lesson #6: Earthquakes and Volcanos
Tuesday, 1 December 11.45-12.30
Children will be able to explain what causes earthquakes.
Children will be able to explain what causes volcanos.
Children will be able to describe the effects of each.
Materials: 1.Table with books and things on it, 2.List of
questions, 3.Children's notebooks, pencils
Slide table across rough floor, making things on it fall.
Explain how that is like what happens when plates rub against each other.
Second experiment: rub hands together slowly -- hands move with a jerky
motion like the plates which causes earthquakes.
Draw diagram of a fault on the board, and explain it.
Draw diagram of a volcano on the board, especially pointing out the
difference between magma and lava.
Show how volcanos and earthquakes occur along divisions between plates,
and explain why that happens.
Children draw the 2 pictures on the board in their notebooks, and label
Children answer the following questions from the chart:
Where do most earthquakes and volcanos occur?
What is a fault?
Why do earthquakes occur?
Why are earthquakes dangerous?
Can anything good come from earthquakes?
What is the difference between magma and lava?
Why do volcanos occur?
Why are volcanos dangerous?
Can anything good come from volcanos?
Why would some people want to live in places where there is the danger
of earthquakes or volcanos?
What might people do to protect themselves in places where there are
Those who finish may look in reference books to find more information
about volcanos, such as "What were some famous volcanos?" "How much damage
can one do?"
Mention that earthquakes aren't the only things that
can happen when plates meet. Besides rubbing, they can also crash into
Children, working in pairs, model Asia and India with modeling clay. Then
they crash them into each other, and observe what happens. When they think
they know, they write it down (forms mountains). Then they can try to find
those mountains on a globe or atlas (Himalaya Mountains).
Demonstrate for the class how the other 2 types of mountains are
formed, using modeling clay. Also draw the 3 types on the board and name them:
Folded mountains: formed when plates collide
Fault-block mountains: formed from cracking and sliding (review
Dome mountains: formed from pressure below surface (review volcanos)
Children draw and label the 3 kinds of mountains, and write how each of
the three are formed.
Those who finish may look at maps or atlases and find mountains and try
to figure out how they may have been formed.
Evaluation: Descriptions of how the mountains are formed should
show a clear distinction between the three.
Lesson #8: The British Isles
Thursday, 3 December 11.45-12.30
Objective: Children will be able to describe the formation of the
Materials: 1.Clear-sided container (aquarium), 2.modeling clay model
of Europe & British Isles, 3.Water, 4.Children's notebooks and pencils
Briefly describe the Ice Age.
Show how the melting ice formed the British Isles by slowly adding
water to the model.
Illustrate it again up on the board.
Children draw it and describe in their notebooks how the British Isles
were formed, beginning with Pangaea.
Evaluation: Description, especially at the end, should be accurate
Summary (included at the end of this lesson)
Name the continents, and write something about each one (a country on
that continent or some fact about it).
Draw a diagram of the 3 layers of the Earth and label them.
Name 2 kinds of evidence for Continental Drift.
Why is Mr Wegener important?
Describe what a plate is.
What do these words mean: Pangaea, Laurentia, Gondwanaland, Tethys Sea?
What causes earthquakes?
What is a volcano?
List the 3 kinds of mountains, and write what causes each.
Where did the water come from that separates the British Isles from
the rest of Europe?
(some are rather old, but are the best available here for use)
Bible (King James Version). (for introductory motivation)
Davis, Alan. Inside the Earth. Macdonald Educational Ltd.:
London. 1972. (reference and resource book)
Forbes, Duncan. Life Before Man. Adam & Charles Black: London.
1967. (for the lesson making reference to fossils)
Gadsby, Jean & David. Looking at the World. Adam & Charles
Black: London. 1976. (general reference, especially regarding the
Junior World Encyclopedia. Simpson Low: London. 1961. (general
Lambert, Mark. 50 Facts About Dinosaurs. Franklin Watts:
London. 1982. (for the lesson making reference to fossils)
Latham, Ronald. Columbus. Macdonald Educational Ltd.: London.
1979. (for the lesson making reference to Columbus)
Kaufman, Mervyn D. Christopher Columbus. Frederick Muller:
London. 1966. (for the lesson making reference to Columbus)
Philips Visual Atlas. George Philips & Son Ltd.: London. 1969.
(for the lesson requiring an atlas)
Seymour, David. Prehistoric Animals. Adams Charles Black:
London. 1975. (for the lesson making reference to fossils)
Smith, Michael. Prehistoric Animals & Fossils. Ladybird Books:
Loughborough. 1974. (for the lesson making reference to fossils)
Wright, Walter D. A First Encyclopedia. James Nisbett & Co.
Hertfordshire. 1967. (general reference book)