Types of Landform Projects for Kids

by Erica Loop

    Just because your little learner isn't even in kindergarten yet doesn't mean that she can't tackle "big kid" concepts such as nature, geography and topography. Landform projects for kids provide an awesome introduction to the beauty and majesty of our planet. Help your child get her creativity flowing and take her artistic skills to a new level by constructing continents, islands and more.

    The Globe

    Yes, your 4 year old will squeal the first time she touches sticky, paper-mache paste. That said, this medium is ideal for creating landforms on a globe. When choosing an appropriate paper-mache paste for your young child, use only a nontoxic product; look for the Art and Creative Materials Institute seal of safety certification. Give your child a fully inflated balloon, a batch of paper-mache mix and construction paper strips. Be sure to watch her carefully as you help her coat the strips with paper-mache, and then cover the balloon with paper-mache. After it dries, draw the continents of Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Australia. Then paint in the land masses with tempera. As time goes on, the balloon will shrivel inside, but the globe shape will remain, thanks to the paper-mache.


    Help your little learner create towering mountains -- or at least mountain mini-models, as he learns about this rocky landform. Explaining that mountains are landforms that tower above ground level, use a soft modeling clay or salt dough to mold mountains on a flat surface, such as cardboard or poster board paper. Keep in mind that mountains aren't solely rounded slopes. These landforms can have jagged edges, dips, peaks trees, snow or rocky surfaces. Give your little simple tools such as a rolling pin or craft sticks to create some of these landmarks, or use items such as cotton to dot the peaks with snow. Make one mountain or create an entire range of connecting landforms with your child.


    If your preschooler thinks that landforms are only those geological structures that stick out or up, help her to understand that flat areas such as plains are also key topographic structures when it comes to our planet. Plains are flat, broad stretches of land that form at the bases of mountains, are marks left behind from continents colliding or areas of Earth erosion. As flat surface features, your plains landforms should follow a level focus. Create different plains around the world with your child, showing her how the scenery changes depending on the region and climate. Start with a flat plain surface such as a piece of reused cardboard box. Add regional items to the plain, making sure to only use nontoxic, ACMI-certified materials that don't pose any type of choking hazard. For example, create an African plan, gluing raffia or craft hay on the cardboard and adding small-sized plastic toy zebras, lions or elephants.


    Explore the depths of cave landforms, making cool cavern-type projects with your young child. While you can't exactly carve out a rock with your 4 year old, you can help him to make his own model caves that feature stalagmites growing from the floor and stalactites coming from the top. Craft a simple cave by crumpling brown paper lunch sacks on a cardboard base. Dot nontoxic, clear-drying school glue on to the base to make the bags stick. For a more in-depth experience, use soft modeling clay to build a rounded cave with your child. Help her to roll pinkie finger sized pieces, attaching them to the top or bottom of the cave as stalagmites and stalactites.

    About the Author

    Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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