This is a lesson that I used for the first time this year and the kids loved it. It really showed how 3-D objects can be represented using a 2-D map. I also showed some examples of topo maps and how they may use one if they go camping, hiking, geocaching, etc… I gave each student a canister of Play Doh and a thin craft stick. They created their own mountain and then made about 5-8 sections, depending on the height, and used either the craft stick or their pinky to determine the intervals for each section. I demonstrated the whole process and stressed the importance of having a center mark and a notch down the side so that they can line up each section correctly when they trace it.
Once they were done, I collected their maps and gave them someones elses map and they had to try to create the mountain using only the topo map. I had bought a box of 24 Play Doh canisters, but didn’t realize (until I opened the box) that they were about 3/4th the size of a full size Play Doh canister. Luckily, it was enough for them to work with. For the same price, I should have bought 6 -4 packs ($2.49 each) and got the bigger size.
Please see the pics below of the activity.
Notebook and links: