Topography Activities

Topography gives students an entirely different perspective on the world in which they live.

Topography activities can be used in and outside the classroom to get young people excited about the world we live in. Topography studies the Earth’s surface, and records the various elevations and specific landforms found in all regions of it. Contoured lines and relief shading is sometimes used to isolate certain topographic information. Using various topography activities that vary in difficulty can help students grasp the basic concepts of this science discipline.

Topography Hunt

An ideal activity for older grade schoolers or middle school students, a Topography Hunt involves looking at different topographic photographs and finding specific features, landmarks, and destinations. Some examples include locating a peninsula found on the east coast of the United States using an astronaut’s aerial view of the earth. Using a computer-enhanced raised image of a mountain range, a student learns that the red portion of the raised image represents tree-covered areas, while the white represents stretches of snow. Using the various enhancements of topographic images, or just using aerial shots seen with the naked eye, students can locate various locations in the world that they might otherwise not recognize.

Design Your Own Topographic Map

You can use any variety of materials to make your own topographic map in the classroom, and one example of this would be the use of clay and fishing wire. The clay represents the contours and elevations of mountains, and the wire works to separate regions, bring deeper depressions to represent craters, etc. Encourage your students to be creative with their textures, while also reminding them of the importance of remaining consistent in how they represent different geographical features.

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Printable Worksheets

There are many websites that offer printable worksheets focusing on topography. The Discovery Channel is host to a website that has free teaching tools. These include matching landforms, coloring pages of mountain ranges and oceans for younger children, and geography outline maps. Houghton-Mifflin also offers free printable maps and worksheets that include answer keys and color codes.