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What Does Canada Look Like?

Identify the top five geographical features in an assigned region of Canada.

Assessment Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students learn about geographical features in Canada by selecting key facts and images that best represent assigned regions.

Sort images of Canada and the world
To introduce the diversity of Canada's geographical features, prepare a collection of photographs of features in Canada and features outside Canada that are dramatically different from Canadian terrain. Collect about 12 to 15 images of Canadian features, such as the Rocky Mountains, the Prairies, Lake Winnipeg, Niagara Falls and the Bay of Fundy. Collect about 12 to 15 world images, such as Ayers Rock, the Grand Canyon, the Gobi Desert, the Nile River and a coral reef.

Randomly post these images on a large wall map of Canada. As you review each image, ask students to decide which feature is found in Canada and which is found outside of Canada. To increase student participation, use a thumbs up/thumbs down activity: students signal thumbs up for features in Canada and thumbs down for features outside Canada. Ask students to provide their reasons for deciding whether or not the images represent features found in Canada. Invite students to speculate on the location of Canadian features and place the photographs in the appropriate location on the map. During the activity, draw attention to the diversity of Canada's natural features.

Explore Canada's geographical features
You may wish to show a film, such as Over Canada: An Aerial Adventure, to introduce the variety of Canadian landforms and terrain (see References). While viewing the films, highlight these landforms:

  • slope, such as cliff, hill, valley
  • coastal and oceanic, such as bay, gulf, beach, delta
  • fluvial, such as island, marsh, cave
  • mountain and glacial, such as fjord, glacier
  • volcanic, such as butte, geyser.

You may want to draw attention to the origins of the words for geographical features. For example, words for some features have Francophone origins, such as prairie, butte and coulee (see References).

Introduction to concepts: Natural and human-made geographical features
If students are unfamiliar with the differences between natural and human-made landforms, present several examples of natural features, such as a natural lake or a mountain, and then show several examples of human-made geographical features, such as a human-made lake, a dam, a reclaimed forest (see References). Invite students to identify the similarities and differences between each set of images. Direct students to write their own definitions of natural and human-made geographical features.

Present the summative task: The Great Canadian Textbook Challenge
Provide students with the following description of the task, The Great Canadian Textbook Challenge (Lesson Material).

A publisher is writing a student textbook about Canada’s geographical regions. They are inviting school classes to submit visual representations of Canadian regions that could be used as the chapter title page spreads for the textbook or as multi-media introductions for the online version. Each visual representation needs to include:

  • images that represent the diversity of geographical features in the region
  • a caption for each image that provides key information about the geographical feature
  • descriptive phrases or words that will engage students and help them appreciate the vastness of Canada’s geography.

The visual representation can be submitted as a poster or a multimedia presentation.

Your class has decided to participate in the challenge. You will work as a group on some parts of the task and work individually on other parts.

In addition to the visual representation, the publisher wants to include some information within the chapters to help students compare and contrast the various geographical regions of Canada. Your teacher will assign two regions for you to compare and contrast. Use the information you have researched as well as what you learn from viewing the presentations of other groups to provide you with background information. Select an appropriate graphic organizer to help organize the information.

Do your best work––the publisher will use the best school submission for the textbook!

Research features of an assigned region
Assign to each student a geographical region, such as Western Cordillera, Interior Plains, Arctic Lowlands and Canadian Shield, Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands or Appalachians. Ask students to use print and online resources to find between 5 and 10 key facts about the terrain or landforms of an assigned region. In addition, ask each student to locate at least five terrain or landform photographs or images in various sources, such as magazines, websites, art collections and calendars. Since the publisher will need to obtain permission to include the photographs and information in the textbook, students must cite references as part of their research.

Select the five best representations of a region
Form student groups based on assigned geographical regions. Invite students to share their key facts and images with other members of their group. Each group is to choose the best photographs or images that represent the diversity of geographical features in their region. Students then create a caption for each image. The group will determine how to write the captions. Suggestions include assigning individuals or partners to create the captions or working together as a group.

The group also needs to decide on descriptive words or phrases that will engage students and help them appreciate the vastness of Canada’s geography.

Students may consider criteria such as the following when selecting key images and phrases:

  • represent the diversity of geographical features in the region
  • communicate accurate information
  • engage and interest students.

Share selections with the class
Ask each group to create and share their poster or multimedia presentation with the class. Display the posters on a large wall map of Canada or view the multimedia presentations.

Compare and contrast two geographical regions
Once the posters or multimedia presentations have been shared, assign each student two regions to compare and contrast. Students will work individually using a graphic organizer to record important ways the two regions are similar and different. Students will support their choices by giving reasons.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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