Have students try these activities to expand their knowledge and interest in U.S. Landscapes.
The United States is characterized by a diversity of landscapes and geographical regions. Have groups of students use the Internet or atlases to locate geographical information about the area or region where you live. Students may identify and record data including elevations, population and demographics, average temperatures and precipitation, etc. Students may also identify notable landforms and bodies of water in your area. Develop the activity further by having groups perform the same research on an area in a different state or country. Students may compare and contrast the physical and human characteristics of the two locations using atlases, the Internet, or other available resources.
In How Astronauts See the States, students read a quote from Barack Obama about the beauty of United States landscapes. Suggest that students find poetry and prose that describe and illustrate an environmental landscape, a landform, or a physical region of the United States. Have students prepare oral readings of their favorite selections. Encourage creativity by suggesting students choose imagery and music to accompany their readings.
There is an enormous amount of quantitative information that can be gathered about the landscapes and geographical features of the United States. Have students use geographical information to create graphs. Students may compile data from U.S. Landscapes and other resources to graph features of selected locations, such as elevation, total area, total precipitation, and total population. Guide students to select the type of graph (line, bar, circle, etc.) best suited to their selected data. Students may use their data to compare cities, states, mountain ranges, or geographical regions. Have students share their findings and graphic information in a visual presentation. Students may choose from a variety of media, including posters, web pages, or slide shows.
U.S. Landscapes tells about some animals that live in the selected geographical regions. Have students choose an animal from the selection to research and write about in a report. Students should focus on how the animal interacts with its environment to meet its needs. Suggest a list of questions to get students started: Where does this animal live? What does the animal eat? Does the animal live alone or in a group? Does the animal have adaptations? Encourage students to include photographs to accompany their reports.
The photographs in U.S. Landscapes show a variety of different landscapes found in the United States. Have students select a type of landscape to illustrate. Give students the option of using different media such as watercolor paints, crayons, and oil pastels. Have students type and print a description of their work. Organize students’ artwork into a landscape gallery and display in a visible area of the classroom or school.
Rivers change landscapes while undergoing transformations of their own. Given time, rivers may have profound effects on a given landscape. Use the Internet to construct a list of the oldest rivers in the United States or in the world. Have students select a river to research. Encourage students to write a poem about the river. You may suggest that students think about the river’s effects on its environment through time and how the river itself goes through changes.