U.S. Physical Geography: Mapping Activity and Poster Project

By: Amy Samuels



Students will use maps and atlases to learn about and identify important physical locations and landmarks in the United States to better understand the region. After completing the mapping activity, students will apply the information learned to construct a travel tour poster to exemplify the physical and culture diversity in the United States.

Keywords: United States physical features geography


Students will apply geography skills to complete a mapping activity in order to further develop their understanding of U.S. physical geography.
Students will apply their knowledge of physical geography in the U.S. to create a travel tour poster.


GEOGRAPHY (SS.7.G.1.3): Understand how to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technology to report information. -- Interpret maps to identify geopolitical divisions and boundaries of places in North America
GEOGRAPHY (SS.7.G.2.2): Understand physical and cultural characteristics of places. -- Locate major physical landmarks that are emblematic of the United States. Examples are Grand Canyon, Mt. Denali, Everglades, Great Salt Lake, Mississippi River, Great Plains.
GEOGRAPHY (SS.7.G.2.3): Understand physical and cultural characteristics of places. -- Explain how major physical characteristics, natural resources, climate, and absolute and relative location have influenced settlement, economies, and inter-governmental relations in North America.


Academic Preparation

This lesson serves as a good introductory lesson to the United States. Students will apply their mapping skills and utilize atlases/maps to identify important physcial features and cultural landmarks.
Students will need access to U.S. maps and/or atlases to complete the mapping activity.
The teacher will need to prepare handouts of questions on physical features and landmarks (see attachment). Questions should be cut into strips. 2 or 3 handouts are recommended for a class size of 20-25.
The teacher will also need to provide blank maps of the United States, a transparency of the blank map of the U.S. or an ELMO to project a copy of the map.
Colored pencils, construction paper, markers and/or crayons are needed for the poster activity.


Play This LAND IS YOUR LAND by Woody Guthrie and have students make a list of physical features referenced in the song.
After the song has concluded, discuss student responses in large group.
Divide students into mixed-ability pairs. Once students are paired, tell them that they are going to complete a mapping activity. This activity will help them learn about and identify important physical features and landmarks in the United States.
Distribute blank US maps to students.
After distributing blank maps, each pair should receive one question from the handout. Have the pairs use an atlas or U.S. map for help. The students should read the question, write it on the back of their maps or in their notebooks, and write the answer next to the question after using the map to locate the answer. Students should then label the feature on the map. When a pair finishes with a mapping question, have one student bring the question and answer to you. After ensuring the correct response, give each pair a new question to work on. When most pairs have answered most of the questions, tell them that the question on which they are working is the one they will present to the class. Give pairs a few extra minutes to ensure that they have accurately answered and labeled the feature. Once students are ready to present, project a blank US map transparency or a US map on an ELMO. Ask the experts on question 1 to come forward, read their question aloud, and label the answer on the map.
After the mapping activity is completed, students will create a poster project to apply knowledge gained. Pairs will be asked to create a poster advertising a travel tour to celebrate the diversity of physical features found in the United States. Instruct students to select four features to be included in the tour to represent the country's physical diversity. Posters must include a title, a visual for each feature, a slogan to entice toursists and other creative touches to make the poster appealing.
If time allows students can present their posters to the class.


Students will be assessed throughout the mapping activity. Immediate feedback will be provided after each question to ensure students are accurately applying skills to answer questions correctly.
Students will also be assessed through completion of the travel tour poster.

Estimated Lesson Duration

2hr 00min

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