Lesson Plans

Put the VT to work in your classroom

Water, Water, Everywhere

Lesson Question:

How can students use the Visual Thesaurus to define and identify various geography terms that represent bodies of water?

Applicable Grades:

3-8

Lesson Overview:

Ever wonder about the difference between a gulf and a bay? How about an ocean and a sea? In this geography lesson, students use the Visual Thesaurus to define and identify the various types of bodies of water and to then right-click their way to examples and images of each.

Length of Lesson:

One hour to one hour and a half

Instructional Objectives:

Students will:

  • compare and contrast the attributes of a gulf and a bay using Google Maps
  • use the Visual Thesaurus to define various types of bodies of water
  • use the Visual Thesaurus to identify examples of each type of body of water
  • use online resources (such as Google Maps and Google Images) to see visual representations of different bodies of water

Materials:

  • student notebooks
  • white board
  • computers with Internet access
  • "Water, Water, Everywhere" sheets (one per student) [click here to download]

Links:

  • Google Maps is a mapping service application that enables students to search for a particular location and see it in the context of an interactive map and various satellite views.
  • National Geographic's education site is an excellent resource for exploring different aspects of world geography.

How to link your Visual Thesaurus account to Google Maps:

If you login to your Visual Thesaurus account and click on "My Account" (underneath the Welcome Message in the upper right-hand corner), you will see a gray tab for "Application Settings." Click on that tab to customize your "Right-Click Search Settings" to include Google Maps. Here is the search URL you will need to submit: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=${word}.

Warm-up:

Comparing and contrasting a bay and a gulf using Google Maps:

  • If possible, display an image of The Bay of Fundy using Google Maps on your white board. Click on the minus sign on the movable scale located on the left side of the map image (under the little orange man) in order to enlarge the scope of the map. Keep clicking on the minus sign until the Gulf of St. Lawrence appears in the upper right corner of the map. (If you cannot access Google Maps, you can display the bodies of water on a world map, globe, or map of North America.)
  • Based on their observations of the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, what can students conclude about the two types of bodies of water? What do a bay and a gulf have in common? How do they differ?

  • After orally comparing and contrasting the attributes of the bay and the gulf, ask students to try to write dictionary definitions for the two geography terms.

Instruction:

Defining bay and gulf with the Visual Thesaurus:

  • Display the Visual Thesaurus word maps for gulf and bay — scrolling over the relevant red noun meaning bubbles to reveal the definition of bay as "an indentation of a shoreline larger than a cove but smaller than a gulf" and the definition of gulf as "an arm of a sea or ocean partly enclosed by land; larger than a bay."

  • Compare and contrast the Visual Thesaurus definitions for the terms with the students' original definitions of the words. Did students point out the relative size difference between the two types of bodies of water — that a gulf is defined as "larger than a bay" and that a bay is defined as "smaller than a gulf"?

Discovering the various types of bodies of water:

  • Display the word map for gulf and scroll the cursor over the dashed line that sows that a gulf is "a type of" a body of water. Then, click on the red bubble defining body of water as "the part of the Earth's surface that is covered with water" to reveal all the types of bodies of water in the Visual Thesaurus database.

Defining and identifying bodies of water using the Visual Thesaurus and Google Maps:

  • Organize the class in small groups and distribute a "Water, Water, Everywhere" sheet [click here to download] to each student.

  • Explain to groups that they will be using the Visual Thesaurus and other online databases to help them define and explore visually five different types of bodies of water: bay, gulf, ocean, sea, and strait.

  • Model the process of identifying an example of a body of water by clicking on the meaning associated with that type of body of water. For example, if you click on the meaning of bay, you will see a variety of famous bays from around the world. Then, if you right-click (control/click on a Mac) on the name of a specific bay, you can search Google Images or Google Maps to see images of that bay and locate it on a world map.

  • For example, if one chooses the "search images" option while right-clicking on "Bay of Fundy" in the bay display, students will see images of the beautiful bay located between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Wrap-up:

Sorting bodies of water according to size:

  • Display Google Maps on your white board and have each small group identify for the class which bodies of water they chose to explore using the Visual Thesaurus and other online resources. Did they choose bodies of water with which they were familiar or had visited? Or, did they explore bodies of water that they did not previously know existed?

  • As a synthesis activity, establish how groups sorted the different bodies of water according to size (bay, gulf, sea, ocean). Do people always accurately use such terms?

Extending the Lesson:

  • Since this lesson focuses on coastal bodies of water, you could expand students' research by asking them to investigate bodies of water that are located inland — such as rivers (and other related river terms — delta, source, tributary, mouth, etc.) and lakes. They can start with defining such terms on the VT, clicking on their meanings, identifying specific examples, and then right-clicking to access maps and images (This is the same sequence of exploration modeled in this lesson.)

Assessment:

  • Check whether or not groups accurately defined and identified examples of the five types of bodies of water on their "Water, Water, Everywhere" sheets.

  • Assess students' mastery of the geography terms by pointing out unlabeled bodies of water on a map and have them label each one as a specific type of body of water.

Educational Standards

Geography

Standard 1.  Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographic tools and technologies

Level II (Grade 3-5)

Benchmark 1.  Knows the basic elements of maps and globes (e.g., title, legend, cardinal and intermediate directions, scale, grid, principal parallels, meridians, projection)
Knowledge/skill statements
1.         Knows the basic elements of maps
2.         Knows the basic elements of globes
3.         Understands the concept of a title

Benchmark 2.  Interprets topography using aerial photos and maps
Knowledge/skill statements
1.         Interprets topography using aerial photos
2.         Interprets topography using maps

Level III (Grade 6-8)

Benchmark 1.  Knows the purposes and distinguishing characteristics of different map projections, including distortion on flat-map projections
Knowledge/skill statements
1.         Knows the purpose of different map projections
2.         Knows the distinguishing characteristics of different map projections

Standard 2. Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment

Level  II  (Grade:  3-5)

3.        Knows the approximate location of major continents, mountain ranges, and bodies of water on Earth


Rate this article:

Click here to read more articles from Lesson Plans.

Do you have a comment?

Share it with the Visual Thesaurus community.

Your comments:

Sign in to post a comment!

We're sorry, you must be a subscriber to comment.

Click here to subscribe today.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login.