I had the students make a flip the flap book - one for land and one for water with a picture on the outside and the definition under each flap for ocean, river, lake and plains, hills, mountain, island, peninsula,
I copied landform maps from worldatlas.com and laminated them. I let the kids compare the landforms from each map on a double bubble map (Venn Diagram).
I had the kids to create songs to the tune of Are You Sleeping?
I'm a mountain, I'm a mountain
yes I am yes I am
very tall with snow on top
very tall with snow on top
points on top, points on top
I showed them photographs of me and asked them which landform I'm standing near. I've also used the pictures from calendars. When I use the pictures from calendars we predict which part of the U.S. the picture was probably taken.
I participate in a postcard exchange and have them predict which state it came from based on the landforms in the picture on the card (if there are any).
Just recently I red a story about a Redwood forest (can't think of the exact title) and we sang the song This Land is Your Land. We found all the landforms mentioned in the song on a map and marked them.
My favorite book for teaching landforms is Geography from A to Z by Jack Knowlton. Over the years, I have accumlated a class set. It not only gives definitions third graders understand, but the illustrations are easily copied by third graders.
I use 8 1/2' x 14" to make landform booklets. The paper is folded in half and stapled on the fold. On each page, there is a box for the picture and then lines for the meaning.
While teaching landforms, I also use tall tales in my guided reading and shared reading groups. Tall tales are full of "landforms" so as we read, we locate them on a map. I also put tall tales in a basket in the reading center so students can read tales independently that we will not read together. Here is a bibliography that might get you started.
NONFICTION: Geography from A to Z by Jack Knowlton The Armadillo from Amarillo by Lynne Cherry
NOTE: Beware of Pecos Bill books. He is sometimes shown nude and his language isn’t always appropriate!
TALL TALES: I Can Read About Paul Bunyan by J. I. Anderson I Can Read About Johnny Appleseed by J. I. Anderson I Can Read About Pecos Bill by J. I. Anderson The Story of Paul Bunyan by Barbara Emberley The Story of Johnny Appleseed by Aliki Pecos Bill by Brian Gleeson Paul Bunyan by Brian Gleeson John Henry by Ezra Jack Keats Iva Dunnit and the Big Wind by Carol Purdy The Bunyans by Audrey Wood Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg Pecos Bill by Steven Kellogg Mike Fink by Steven Kellogg Folks Call Me Appleseed John by Andrew Glass Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett by Steven Kellogg Robin Hood and Little John by Barbara Cohen John Henry by Julius Lester Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs American Folk Tales by Steven Zorn
Does your playground have peat gravel? I divide the class into partners and then we write the names of the landforms on index cards. We then go outside and I let them spread out and "build" their landforms. They have to use the index cards to label the landforms. This is a great thing to do when the weather is just too nice to stay inside.
By the way - I love the peat gravel idea. I'm trying that this week!! Okay, I have a great project that our entire third grade does. Let me see if I can explain it to you. I use US maps that I purchase from our local teacher store. They come in a pad of like 30 and they are fairly inexpensive ($7). The kids label the states. Then we make a physical map showing some of the major landforms in the US. We glue ric rac for mountains ranges (App, Rocky, and SN). big pieces of lace for plains (The Great Plains is all we do), sandpaper for desert (we cut out a cactus and glue it to represent the Mojave Desert), green ribbon in the shape of a V for a valley (Grand Canyon), and blue glitter for rivers (Miss, Colorado, Red, Arkansas, Ohio). After all of this is glued on, then we make a map key to show what each item represents. The kids love this project and it is an extremely "impressive" project to display in the hallway. I get tons of compliments on them, especially from the fifth grade teachers. Did I explain this well enough? Ask me questions if you are confused. Good luck!