Earth Space Science: Topographic Maps

We read the second chapter in the geology book we have from Real Science 4 Kids.  It talked about the different tools that geologists use — including topographic maps.  I wasn’t sure the kids thoroughly understood how the maps worked and looked around for some resources to help them understand. I found a couple of wonderful activities!


We actually started with this topographic map page from the USGS:


I thought that page explained the elevations really well.  Then we went on to build the 3-d version of a topographic map.  This packet of topographic map activities had a topographic map you could cut out.  I cut out the diagram and then cut piece by piece out of card stock. I kept the diagram (lower right photo) that shows what the island looks like hidden from the kids until we completed the activity.

TopographicMapActivity1 After cutting out the pieces, I realized we needed to make it clear which side was up. I put a dot on each piece. Then we used modeling magic clay, which we realized we could cut with scissors.  After they were the right shape, we stacked them on top of one another and compared it to the diagram.

TopographicMapActivity2We then learned about how depressions are marked on the map.  It’s really hard to tell from the pictures below because our model magic was a combination of colors, but our creations were like a crater and a volcano.  Again, we got those sheets from here: topographic map activities.

TopographicMap-depressionsThe last activity we did was a Boy Scout activity I came across.  All three kids LOVED this!! We drew elevation marks around their knuckles, then they flattened out their hands.  That sure pulled all this together for us!

TopographicHands-675x259hsd and here’s DD’s topographic hand!


We’ve sure had fun with this unit!

This is an activity we did when we did our World Facts Packet. Be sure to check that post out for more details!

Part I: World Facts — Do your kids know the largest countries? the countries with the largest populations? the longest river? tallest mountain? the major world landmarks? This first part of the packet goes over basic facts about the world and about the U.S.A.

World Facts Packet

Part II: Geography Landforms – This second half goes over landform words from simple terms (like islands, lakes to the difference between bays, gulfs and sounds or between a delta and an estuary.)

World Facts Packet - Geography Landforms

You might be interested in our 100+ pageEarth Scienc packet. See more details here:



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3 Responses

  1. October 13, 2013

    […] Earth-Space Science: Topographic Maps […]

  2. October 14, 2014

    […] Earth-Space Science: Topographic Maps […]

  3. October 14, 2014

    […] Earth-Space Science: Topographic Maps […]

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