Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Creating your Neverland Model

To help your child be prepared for this lesson, you will want to have lots of maps available for taking a look at before you begin.  In fact, I suggest having the maps lying around for a few days before and after this lesson in such a way they are easy for your child to access.  In particular, maps showing islands or whole continents will be most exemplary.

Other Materials:

clay or dough that won't dry out.
Airtight container with lid and stiff sides.
sculpting tools (optional - even toothpicks can be handy for the purpose though)
Sketch paper.
Dry erase crayons or markers.
A Hard and clear surface (I have a Plexiglas clipboard, but any surface the child can see through will do).
Overhead projector transparency sheet.

Make sure to point out the legend on the maps you are looking at for examples as well as the thought that a map is made in such a way as to give the user of the map a view as though one is flying right over the land and looking down on it.  Then, using clay or playdough, you'll want to actually mold an Island.  This one is your example.  While molding your own version of Neverland, show your child how to shape the dough so it makes beaches, hills, cliffs, plateaus, mountains, peninsulas, bays and lagoons.  If you want to do the landforms extension, now is the time to discuss the different landforms you want your child to learn.

It is also probably a good idea to have a "brainstorming session".  For this session, simply list all the things a good Neverland must have in the eyes of your child.  Are there fairy cities?  Should there be a pirate ship anchored in a cove?  Does your child's Neverland have animals from our world or only magical ones?  Which kinds of animals from our world?  Polar Bears, Pandas, Grizzlies or no bears at all?  Which kinds of magical ones?  Unicorns? Dragons? Wyverns? Wangdoodles?  Are there great big cities anywhere or is it mostly wild lands?  For any of the animals that exist, the child will need to incorporate the appropriate type of habitat for that animal into their plans.

If you plan on skipping the topographical portion of this activity, you'll want to read Chapter Four, while your child draws his or her island and move on to Making your Neverland Coastline Map.

While you read Chapter Four, your child can work on sculpting his or her Neverland.

When the clay model is completed, it is time to learn to "trace" its coastline. 

Place a piece of Plexiglas or other clear and hard surface over the top of the container the Island was built in.  Hand over a transparency and the thinnest dry erase marker you can find.  Start by tracing the island while looking at the tracing surface at a significant angle - 45 degrees should work nicely.  Show your child how looking at an angle distorted the map.  Erase the transparency and then have your child trace the coastline carefully again, this time looking directly over the center of the island.  This is also a tougher task than it appears so be patient and if a few tries are needed, just know your child is practicing his or her fine motor skills.  Particularly if you have a very young child (third grade or younger) if this is a struggle and becoming overly frustrating, "trace" the coastline together with both of you holding the pen.

For very young kids that will not also be creating the topographical map, just letting them sketch the outline of their island will suffice, but if you plan on doing topography as well, your child will need to practice tracing the coastline more than once  to get the coastline down in a precise manner.  You will want two copies of this coastline map.  One for the activity, Making your Neverland Coastline Map, and one to use in continuting with the Topographical step.

For the first Post in the Neverland Unit Series; Click Here.  

 Landforms Extension:

In order to use this opportunity to expand your child's vocabulary, introduce your child to a variety of landforms.  A few are already listed above but you might add, alluvial plains or deltas, an isthmus, sand bar or spit, reef, atoll, haystack islands, tombolos or tied islands, valleys, canyons, any number of other landforms you might frequently encounter where you live.

Here Alice is looking up different types of landforms

Make sure to take a look at what each land form looks like in photos or pictures of the land form itself as well as how it is mapped out on more than one example from your atlas or map samples you have out for the project.  Then give your child a list of landforms that must be included on his or her Neverland and encourage your child to start molding.  This task is tougher than you might think, so I suggest molding alongside your sweetie pie and if actually forming the clay into a particular land form is tougher than you thought it would be you can problem solve together.

NatGeo Land Form Education Resources

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