Earth’s surface has many shapes and forms, such as mountains, rivers, oceans, canyons, and deserts.
Earth Sciences 3a
Investigation and Experimentation 4e
EP & C I a
To identify some characteristics of different landforms; to draw a picture of one landform.
In terms of landforms and habitats, San Diego County is one of the most diverse in the country. From the
coast to the desert there are many habitats that, generally, are a result of the topography, climate, and
geographical location. A landform is a physical feature of the earth’s surface. A habitat is a place where a
plant or animal naturally lives.
Sandy beaches, rocky shores, and lagoons meet the sea on the western edge of San Diego County. Extending inland the coastal strip gains elevation where flat mesa tops are cut by east-west trending canyons. Farther inland the foothills rise to uplifted mountains. The eastern side of the mountains drops sharply to sea level and below. Rivers and streams cut across the land carrying water from the mountains to the sea. These landforms create a variety of habitats such as the salt-water marsh, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, woodland, forest, and desert. The landform provides a setting for a habitat. An empty house is like a landform. When the house is filled with people, furniture, food, and the things we need it becomes a habitat.
Time 20 minutes
beach, canyon, cliff, foothill, habitat, landform, mountain, stream
CD player and CD of nature sounds, pictures of various landforms—canyon, mountain, river, foothill, beach (several of each so there is at least one picture for each student), paper, crayons
Engage Display the pictures.
Explore Compare the pictures. Note likes and differences—shape of the land, type of vegetation, etc.
Explain Distribute the pictures around the room (walls, desk—easily visible). Start the music. Instruct students to walk in
a clockwise circle around the room. Stop the music and call out one of the landforms (beach, canyon, mountain,
etc.) Students walk to the closest picture that represents the requested landform.
Evaluate Ask students to justify their choice. (flat and sandy, carries water)
Extend Each student draws a picture of their favorite landform.
Go on a field trip to any area that represents a landform, such as beach, canyon, mountain, or stream.
Discuss the difference between a landform and a habitat.
San Diego Wildfires Education Project: San Diego County Habitats