Melody Casey
English Language Arts, Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Primary
  • GEDB
  • Global Education
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Education Standards

    GEDB An Exploration of Landforms and Climate Change: Scavenger Hunt (Lesson 1 of 3)

    GEDB An Exploration of Landforms and Climate Change: Scavenger Hunt (Lesson 1 of 3)


    Students will be introduced to Earth’s land features and participate in virtual explorations of North American and African landforms. This lesson was developed by Georgia Morrison as part of their completion of the North Carolina Global Educator Digital Badge program. This lesson plan has been vetted at the local and state level for standards alignment, Global Education focus, and content accuracy.            

    Lesson Plan


    Students will be introduced to Earth’s land features and participate in virtual explorations of North American and African landforms.


    Student Engagement/Motivation

    Days 1-2  

    The teacher will:

    • Introduce the term surface.
    • Clarify the definition of surface and direct students to compare the surfaces of a sponge, an egg carton, a paper towel roll, an open container of sand, and a pine cone.  (The teacher may substitute these objects with other items.)
    • Direct students to consider the features of the Earth's surface, making connections to their previous discussions.  Can the Earth's surface be raised or flat?  Does it have holes or openings?  What textures exist on the Earth's surface?
    • Explain that these features of the Earth's surface and the variations in shapes and textures each have specific names:   

    canyon, cave, cavern, cliff, desert, glacier, gulf, island, lake, mountain, peninsula, river, valley, volcano, waterfall

    • Show the landforms images and provide the attached list of key academic vocabulary that will enable students to name, describe and compare the landforms.  The following link provides the images:
    • Engage the students in discussions to activate any prior knowledge.  The teacher may, for example, ask if the students have ever seen one of these landforms or bodies of water in person.
    • Announce that students are about to compete in scavenger hunts using Google Earth during which they will virtually jump from place to place across the globe.

    The students will:

    • Determine that surfaces can be raised or flat, have a variety of types holes or openings, feel smooth or rough, among other observations.
    • Understand that the Earth's surface can be characterized by multiple landforms.

    Learning Targets and Criteria for Success

    Learning Targets: 

    • I can compare landforms.
    • I can use hyperlinks and text features to locate and comprehend information about landforms. 
    • I can gather, organize, and present information about landforms using internet tools.


    • I will identify and describe types of landforms.
    • I will explore multiple pages and find useful information in Google Earth in order to learn about landforms.
    • I will build a presentation about landforms in North America and Africa using Google Slides.


    • Items to demonstrate variations in surfaces: a sponge, an egg carton, a paper towel roll, an open container of sand, a pine cone
    • Landforms/Bodies of Water images:
    • Key Academic Vocabulary for Landforms Discussions (attached document)
    • Chromebooks or laptops
    • Copy of Landform Scavenger Hunt for Africa (attached)
    • Copy of Landform Scavenger Hunt for North America (attached)
    • Interactive whiteboard for projection

    Learning Tasks and Practice

    Days 3-5

    The teacher will:

    • Convert the Scavenger Hunt for North American Landforms PowerPoint to Google Slides. (First save the file to the computer.  In Google Drive, select "New."  Then select "Upload File" and select the saved file.  It will convert to Google Slides and appear in Google Drive.)
    • Set up Chromebooks or other devices so that students have access to the Scavenger Hunt for North American Landforms resource and Google Earth.  Both of these tabs should remain open on each device.  Google Earth does not require an account or any log-in:
    • Announce the start of a guided scavenger hunt to locate famous landforms in North America. Students may work individually, in pairs, or small teams, depending on the space and number of devices available.
    • Guide the students through each Google slide, demonstrating how to copy and paste coordinates or landform names from the slides into the search field in Google Earth. This can be accomplished by highlighting the coordinates, pressing Ctrl c, and then pressing Ctrl v while in the Google Earth search field.
    • Show students how to click on the 2D/3D button and the zoom in/zoom out feature in Google Earth to alter the view of each landform, as needed. 
    •  Point to the globe in Google Earth that outlines the geographic area of the landform within the continent. 
    • Model how to first click on the person icon and then a blue area in order to "take a walk" in the vicinity of the desired landform.
    • Demonstrate how to copy a landform image from Google Earth using the snipping tool or a screen shot and paste it onto its respective Google slide.
    • Demonstrate how to locate relevant facts by clicking on the hyperlinks that appear within Google Earth and reading text among the pages.

     The North American slides are intended for modeled practice.  They will enable students to learn how to use Google Earth, with assistance, in order to find information that can be pasted or typed onto the Google slides.  The goal is to fill all slides with the desired images, locations, and relevant facts for the given landform.

    Days 6-8

    Having completed the Scavenger Hunt for North American Landforms with assistance, students should be ready to explore African landforms with limited guidance.  The teacher will convert the attached PowerPoint file to Google Slides, and students will complete the Scavenger Hunt for African Landforms.

    An alternate method for executing this part of the lesson is to introduce students to the tasks by using just a couple of slides from both the North American and African scavenger hunts.   Some students may then complete the North American scavenger hunt while others race to complete the African scavenger hunt.

    Days 9-10

    The teacher will project the completed slide presentations for all to see.  The students will explain what they saw and what they learned as they move through each of the slides.

    Technological Engagement

    This lesson centers around the students’ use of Google Slides and Google Earth.  

    Collecting and Documenting Evidence of Learning

    To assess student mastery of landform identification and description, the teacher may begin or end daily sessions on occasion with a brief review activity.  During the activity, the teacher will note which students can identify and describe landforms and which students struggle to do so.

    Some suggested review activities are listed below:

    1.  Students will use their bodies or parts of their bodies to make the shape of a named landform. For example, two students face each other to represent canyon walls.  One student rests on his hands and knees with a flat back to represent a plateau.  While some students make the shapes, other students describe the displayed landform features aloud.
    2. Students will play a guessing game.  One student will describe a landform, while the others race to identify it.   For example, a student may state: “This landform has a high elevation, a peak, and steep sides."
    3. Students will play a matching game.  Students will match cards with written descriptions of landforms to cards containing landform names or images.  All cards can be created by the students.

    Because the students are actively engaged in building a product across multiple days in this lesson, the teacher will examine student performance continuously.  The teacher will:

    •  Determine if students can navigate from Google slides to Google Earth.
    • Monitor students as they click on hyperlinks to locate information.
    • Review the information recorded on each slide for accuracy.

    A completed and accurate presentation of slides will serve as evidence that students have mastered the learning targets.

    Student Self-Reflection and Action Steps

    The interactive nature of this lesson allows students to assess their own abilities to use technology in order to compare landforms.  If they cannot navigate from one online tool to the next or record information, they know to ask for assistance from the teacher or a peer.  If they cannot find the requested information, they must utilize another feature within Google Earth. Ultimately, the completion or incompletion of slides indicates to students whether or not they are progressing successfully.

    Feedback/Instructional Adjustments

    • Students may need help with cut/paste and keyboarding skills.  Allow students with more proficiency in these areas to assist others in need. 
    • It is beneficial to remind students how to zoom out multiple times in Google Earth in order to see the names of countries. 
    • Point out the text boxes within Google Earth containing additional information (from Wikipedia or other sources) for those students who can read text at that level. 
    • Sometimes students may get off course as they explore in Google Earth using the pedestrian feature or the airplane.  Teach them how to reenter the coordinates or landform name in the search field to get back on track.  Zooming in/out may also help to get them back to the desired landform. 
    • Most importantly, keep a copy of the blank scavenger hunt templates and direct students not to change what their peers have already pasted to a slide.  When students begin to work, they often delete coordinates, landform names, or other students' contributions accidentally.  Keeping an original copy of the template allows for the reinsertion of coordinates.

    Extended Learning Opportunities

    The following site provides a slide show with images of landforms:

    Students can find more detailed and interesting information about Africa’s landforms by exploring the following site:

    Teacher Reflection of Learning

    This lesson is especially beneficial for English Language Learners because it provides a strategic list of academic vocabulary, a simple template for recording information, the opportunity to work with others, and it incorporates strong visuals.