Changing Earth's Surface - Create a Landform

What if?
You've discovered that Earth is dynamic, or ever-changing. The surface is built up by volcanoes, earthquakes, and uplift. It is worn down by weathering and erosion. Some changes happen quickly, and others are imperceptible. Now think of the earth as it was in the beginning. If there were no volcanoes or earthquakes, no uplift, weathering or erosion - what would it look like today? Just suppose…no agents of change… nothing acting upon it. What would the world look like today? It would look just the same as it did in the beginning. Nothing would have changed it.

Build it! Create part of the landform museum
As a final activity for this unit create a landform! Work alone or with a partner to fashion an accurate model of a landform.

Salt dough recipe:

  • 1 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. Cream of Tartar
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 C water
  • Food coloring

Mix all ingredients in saucepan, cook until dough stiffens, knead for 3 min.


  • Salt dough
  • Cardboard or particle board base piece to place your landform on (about 9"x9")
  • Landform names on paper slips to draw out of a bag
  1. If working with a group, draw a landform out of a bag. You can use the list below or create your own.
  2. Research your assigned landform. Write the information down. You'll need it later.
  3. Create an accurate model of your landform.
  4. Let it dry, at least overnight.
  5. Paint it.
  6. Fold the cardstock in four sections.
  7. Write the landform's name and other basic information on the indicated section.
  8. Fold the two end sections around, overlap, and tape or glue to make a triangular prism (or cone). You now have a freestanding sign for your display.
  9. Show off! Put the collection on display. If you are working with a group do the extension activity.

Extension - Go on a landform discovery walk!
If you do the project as a class, play "guess the landform!" Each student or student pair should construct a different landform. Remove the descriptive sign from your display, and all others. Replace the signs with sequential numbers. Put landforms on display in the library or around a room. Number your paper from one to however many landforms you have. Challenge the class or guests to try and guess the name of the landform from the display. After the activity you can put the correct signs back on the display.

Sample Landforms
Arch, butte, mesa, v-shaped canyon, u-shaped canyon, cinder cone, shield volcano, composite volcano, plateau, pinnacle, flood plain, alluvial fan, new mountain range middle-aged mountain, old mountain range, sandy beach, glacier, young river, and old river.

utah state board of education This Sci-ber Text was developed by the Utah State Board of Education and Utah educators.