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Three children, a white boy with blond hair, a Black girl, and a southeast Asian girl, stand in front of pictures of landscapes. They depict a desert, the ocean, a river, and a mountain.


The Earth’s surface is extremely diverse, no matter where you are in the world. It is composed of many different types of landforms and bodies of water, making each part of it unique. From small ponds to vast oceans, and tiny islands to enormous mountains, the land and water of our planet are truly fascinating to learn about. Landforms and bodies of water are natural features of the Earth’s surface that are formed over many years of erosion, weathering, and other earth forces.

Student Activities for Landforms and Bodies of Water



Types of Landforms

Landforms vary in size and shape, as well as elevation levels. Mountains, plains, and plateaus are the main types of landforms, but there are many more.

LandformDefinition
CanyonA deep narrow valley with steep sides and often with a stream flowing through it
Cape A point of land that extends out into the sea or a lake
DeltaWetland that forms as rivers empty their water and sediment into another body of water
Desert Dry land with few plants and little rainfall
GlacierA large body of ice moving slowly down a slope or valley or spreading outward on a land surface
Island An area of land surrounded by water and smaller than a continent
IsthmusA narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas
Mountain A large natural elevation of the earth's surface rising abruptly from the surrounding level; a large steep hill
PeninsulaA piece of land nearly surrounded by water or sticking out into the water
Plain A broad area of level or rolling treeless country
PlateauA broad, flat area of high land
Hill Rounded height of land lower than a mountain
Rainforest An often tropical woodland with a high annual rainfall and very tall evergreen trees with tops that form a continuous layer
Savannah A grassland (like in eastern Africa or northern South America) containing scattered trees
SwampAn area of land that is permanently saturated or filled with water
Valley An area of lowland between ranges of hills or mountains
VolcanoA vent in the earth's crust from which melted or hot rock and steam come out

Types of Bodies of Water

Bodies of water are important for many reasons, including transportation of goods, travel, erosion, and vegetation.

Body of WaterDefinition
BayA broad inlet of the sea where the land curves inward
Gulf A deep inlet of the sea almost surrounded by land, with a narrow mouth
LakeA large inland body of standing water
Ocean The whole body of saltwater that covers nearly three fourths of the surface of the earth
PondA body of water that is usually smaller than a lake
River A large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another such stream
SeaThe expanse of salt water that covers most of the earth's surface and surrounds its landmasses
Strait A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two other large areas of water
StreamA small, narrow river
Waterfall A fall of water usually from a great height

Essential Questions for Landforms and Bodies of Water

  1. What are the main types of landforms?
  2. What are the main types of bodies of water?
  3. How does the geography of where you live impact your life?

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