A GeoLiteracy lesson by Judy Phillips1
Students learn about man-made landmarks on the Earth while practicing reading and writing skills. Teach in alignment with state and national content standards.
A class set or several copies of Bens Dream by Chris Van Allsburg (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1982) is desirable, but reading the book aloud and showing illustrations will suffice if class sets are not feasible. Have on hand a Leapin Landmarks Worksheet for each student; an outline map of the world; and encyclopedias, atlases, encyclopedia software, or Internet access for searching the Web. Teachers might also supplement the lesson with images of famous landmarks from around the world (such as Egyptian pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, etc.).
Students will be able to label a map of the world with the continents and oceans. Each student should also locate, acknowledge, and use several sources to write a brief report in his or her own words.
1. Review the difference between fiction and non-fiction books making a chart of the differences on the board. Explain that the students will be introduced to the book Bens Dream. They will have to decide if it is a fiction or non-fiction book.
2. Discuss the term landmark and the difference between natural (physical) and man-made landmarks with the class. Ask students to list any man-made landmarks they already know about. (A landmark is any object on land that marks a specific locality).
3. Introduce the book, Bens Dream and read it aloud to the class. Pause and invite students to identify and discuss each landmark as it arises in the story. Use images of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, etc. (These have been provided on the GeoLiteracy CD.)2
4. At the conclusion of the story, discuss whether or not the book is fiction or non-fiction. Then list all the reasons the book is a work of fiction.
5. Distribute the Leapin Landmarks worksheet. Students should work in pairs to complete the first part of the worksheet. They may use encyclopedias (or other reference materials) to match each landmark with its exact location.
6. When the first part of the worksheet is complete, the students may move on to the second part. The students should work in groups, researching a landmark that they have chosen. Once research is complete, each student can write an informational paragraph about that
7. Students should include an introductory sentence, such as, One of the worlds landmarks is ... and four supporting sentences about their chosen landmark. The students may use a variety of references such as atlases, encyclopedias, and the Internet.
8. Guide students in labeling a map of the world. All continents and oceans should be identified.
9. When the paragraphs are complete, students should locate their landmarks on a map of the world.
10. Display the map and informational paragraph together.
1. On a multiple-choice evaluation, students will correctly choose the location of eight out of ten man-made landmarks.
2. Students will achieve a score of 4 or higher on their paragraphs using the Six Traits of Writing Rubric (see alliance.la.asu.edu/azga/) with a special focus on the following traits: Ideas, Organization, and Conventions.
3. The students will label, from memory, the continents and oceans on a map of the world, with 80 percent accuracy.
1. The students could read their paragraphs aloud as the rest of the class locates that landmark on their world maps.
2. Show the students the images of the landmarks and have students identify them.
3. The students could follow the same procedure to identify and write about ten natural landmarks of the world.
4. The students could identify and write about a man-made landmark near their home.
1. This lesson is a version of one that appears online at alliance.la.asu.edu/azga/.
2. Arizona Geographic Alliance, Geoliteracy: Lesson Plans for Grades K-8 CD (Phoenix: AZ, 2002). See pages 31-32 in this issue.
Judy Phillips is a teacher consultant with the Arizona Geographic Alliance. She teaches third grade at Pueblo del Sol Elementary School in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Part 1: In the book Bens Dream, Ben dreamed about ten world-famous landmarks. However, the countries in which the landmarks are actually located were not mentioned. Circle the letter for the correct location of each of the following landmarks.
1. The Statue of Liberty
b. United States
2. Big Ben
3. The Sphinx
4. The Eiffel Tower
b. United States
5. The Tower of Pisa
a. United States
6. The Parthenon
7. The Basilica of St. Basil
8. The Taj Mahanbsp;a. England
c. United States
9. The Great Wall
a. United States
10. Mount Rushmore
a. United States
Part 2: Choose one of the landmarks from Part 1 that interests you. Write a discriptive paragraph about your choice. Begin your paragraph with the topic sentence: I have chosen to write about ________________ . Then include four supporting details about your chosen landmark. It may be helpful to think of Who, What, Where, and When as you develop your supporting details.