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Laddingford St Mary's

C of E Primary School

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Activity Ideas (Weekly)

You can use the information on these webpages to pursue your own learning and research. I will be happy to see anything you produce about North American geography or culture.


Week 1: Introduction


- Create a mindmap to record everything you already know about North America before you do any research. For example: Which countries do you know are in North America? Which oceans or seas do you think it has coastlines on? Colour code it so that anything in green is stuff you definitely know or are confident of, yellow or orange can be thinks you think you know but aren't sure of, red could be things you think might be wrong!

- After doing this, make a list of questions you have about North America. What do you want to find out? The chances are, you'll be able to discover many of these things in the coming weeks using the maps, websites and videos linked on these pages.

- Go to the World section of the maps and information page. Look at the diagrams and watch the videos. Can you create a poster to explain plate tectonics?

Week 2: Physical geography of North America

Before you do any of the tasks this week, you'll need to open the 'HQ Maps for Week 2' file and look at it as you listen to the guide. It'll take about 20 minutes. After that, scroll down to see the activities.

A Guide to the Week 2 maps

Mr Ousby takes you on a whistle-stop tour of this week's maps!

This week, I’ve laid out three types of activity. Simple tasks can be completed in half an hour or so. In-depth tasks might take an hour or two. Deep dive tasks are more open-ended and require independent research.


Simple tasks

  • Using the blank map of North America, can you use the maps in the pack to add details such as mountain ranges, climate zones and forest? It’s always interesting to see how these overlap.

  • Can you research to find the highest and lowest points on land in North America?


In-depth tasks

  • Choose one of the maps (for example the watersheds map) and use it to write an explanation of what it shows – imagine describing it to someone who couldn’t see it. Remember to use North, South, East and West to describe what’s going on! You could combine this description with another map and see if you can see any patterns (for instance, the watershed and topographical maps are very clearly related – the line between the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds runs along the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madres on the west coast).

  • The climate is the pattern of rainfall and temperatures in an area – when we looked at the Amazon, we saw that a rainforest climate is very hot and very wet! Look at the climate zones map of North America and choose a couple of climate types to research. What is the rainfall and temperature like in these places?

  • Choose a region I mentioned (The Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, The Great Lakes, The Great Basin, The Mississippi Delta) and do some research to write a fact-file about it.


Deep dive tasks

  • Do some research into those ocean trenches that are so visible on the relief map. What’s going on there?

  • One of the maps shows the glaciers that covered North America during the last Ice Age. What was the Ice Age? Have we talked about it before? Do some research into what was happening in North America specifically during the Ice Age.

Week 3: The human geography of the USA

This week, we're diving in to the human geography of the United States of America. We're particularly focusing on the interplay between physical geography and human geography - how do the physical features of the landscape impact the way people use and interact with it? You'll need to go through both map packs before attempting the activities below.

Guide to the USA Physical Geography maps pack

Guide to the USA Human Geography map pack

Again, I’ve laid out three types of activity. Simple tasks can be completed in half an hour or so. In-depth tasks might take an hour or two. Deep dive tasks are more open-ended and require independent research.

Simple tasks

  • Do some research and put these US cities in order of population.

    • Los Angeles, California

    • Houston, Texas

    • Phoenix, Arizona

    • Chicago, Illinois

    • New York, New York

  • Watch the Lonely Planet USA video and choose one of their top 5 destinations to create a tourism poster for. Visit it virtually using Google Earth or Street View. Why should people visit it? What can they do there?

In-depth task: Map comparison

  • Choose a single map from either pack and write a description of what the map shows you – again, remember to use geographical terms – North, South, East, West, elevation, population etc.

  • Choose one map from the USA Physical Geography pack and one from the USA Human Geography pack and compare them. What do they show? Can you see any links between them? How do you think the physical geography has influenced the human geography?

    • For example, take the topographical map and the accurate land use map – you can see that in the east, where the land is flatter, there is far more cropland. As you move west, and the landscape gets more rugged and elevated, there is far more pasture. This shows that the elevation of the landscape effects the types of farming that can be practiced. In areas with huge expanses of flat land, farmers can easily plant and harvest crops like wheat (as in the Weald of Kent) but in areas with lots of hills and steep slopes, farmers are more likely to keep hill-grazing animals like sheep (as in the Yorkshire Dales). This pattern is seen in the United States.

  • Choose two of the maps from the USA Human Geography pack. Are there similarities between them? Can you spot any patterns? What might be causing these patterns?

    • For a particularly tragic and topical example, take the life expectancy map and the ancestry map. You can see an apparent clear pattern in the Deep South of areas that are majority African American having some of the lowest life expectancies in the country. This might lead you to guess that African Americans have a lower life expectancy than White people in the US but we need to confirm this fact elsewhere. Additional research reveals that, according the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015 a Black or African American person in America had an average life expectancy of 75.5 years whereas a White person’s was 78.9. Why might this pattern exist?

Deep dive tasks

  • Look at the land usage map where the types of usage are grouped into squares and rectangles – remember it’s not geographically accurate. Choose an area that interests you (perhaps maple syrup?!) and do some research into this industry. How does it make money? Whereabouts in the US are the majority of them? Are there any physical geography requirements for this industry (such as golf courses requiring relatively flat land)?

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