Build Geography Skills with Topographic Maps

Earlier this month, the munchkins were watching their favorite show, Oregon Field Guide and were very enthusiastic about the episode, Diving Crater Lake, and all they learned.  They announced that they wanted to focus on Crater Lake for their Passports Club presentation.
topo mapsA few days later, Sweetie took it upon herself to seek out information on the formation of the lake at the library.  She first tried the online card catalog to find a non-fiction book but she wasn’t able to find a book written at her level.  She then requested assistance from the reference librarian who shared with her the encyclopedias.  As these were in library use only, the librarian volunteered to photocopy the pages for her.
In our homeschool, we have used topographic maps on several occasions.  When we started to research Crater Lake, Sweetie suggested we create a model of the lake to show how deep it is.  Perfect!  I thereby printed out a topography map from the computer and showed her how to use a plastic sheet protector to trace each topographic line.  Surprisingly, there were only 5 complete lines.  However, there were multiple lines that were not complete circles so we weren’t sure what to do with them.  We opted to ignore them.  All models have some fault .. this is one of ours, we concluded.
We then taped a plastic sheet to foam core board and I cut out each piece as an Exacto knife was required.  The kiddos then stacked the pieces, applying glue between each layer and allowed it dry a little. Soon thereafter, the painted it to show the distinctions between land and water more easily.
As they worked, they realized that they should have shown the topography of the surrounding cliffs but as we studied the topo map more carefully, we noted that the lines were so close together it would be difficult to show the elevation changes as our foam core board is 1/4″ thick.  From what I understand, there are thinner boards, more easily cut, available upon special order but for our purposes, this was sufficient.

They had a great time working on this project.  They look forward to presenting it at Passports Club.

Linked up with The Massive Homeschool Geography Guide at iHomeschool Network.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

2 comments on “Build Geography Skills with Topographic Maps

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