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Sense of Place: Geography #2: It’s a Beautiful World

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Lesson Overview:

This lesson is actually an activity that builds on last week’s work with atlases.  It is designed to give students a sense of wonder about the incredible diversity and beauty found on Earth.  You’ll need one atlas for every two students and one copy of Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World.  Take the children on a round-the-world adventure using their new atlas skills!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

4 and above


To use atlases to locate famous geographical landmarks.  (AASL 4.1.4, “Seek information for personal learning in a variety of formats and genres.”)

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Students will participate in the “It’s a Beautiful World Game.”

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the children that last week they learned how to use the National Geographic Kids World Atlas.  Ask what they remember from that lesson.  Possible answers might include:  Color coding, organized by continents, lots of pictures, flags and games at the back.  Explain that today they’ll use the atlases to find geographic landmarks.  Most are natural, but a few may be manmade.

Show your library’s copy of Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World.   The kids will probably be excited over the size of the book and the quality of the illustrations.  Tell them that they’ll have a chance to look more carefully at the book at the end of the lesson.

2. Main:

Play the “It’s a Beautiful World” game by showing the illustrations on the page numbers listed below.  For each illustration, have the children try to figure out where the place is and then find that place in their atlases.  Once every team has made a guess, reveal the answer.  If you choose to, give the children instructions on self-scoring.

Places in Europe:

Place Number Page Number Place
1 18 Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
2 26 Waterfall at Myrdalsjokull Glacier, Iceland
3 38 Steller’s sea eagles, Kamchatka, Russia
4 46 Lavender fields, France
5 47 Lake District, Cumbria, England
6 93 Manarola town in Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy
7 132 Black Forest, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
8 135 Aurora borealis, Kiurna, Sweden
9 180 Triglav National Park, Slovenia
10 186-187 Scotland
11 214 Millau viaduct, Midi-Pyrenees, France

Places Outside Europe:

Place Number Page Number Place
12 240 Bagan temples, Mandalay, Myanamar
13 219 Limestone pinnacles at Wulingyuan, Hunan, China
14 164-165 Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
15 143 Slot Canyon, Utah, USA
16 117 Churchill, Canada
17 115 Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand
18 112 Sardine run, Eastern Cape, South Africa
19 110 Holi festival, India
20 86 King penguins, Antarctica
21 61 Angkor Wat, Cambodia
22 49 Humpback whales, Alaska, USA
23 41 Ubari Sand Sea, Libya
24 16 Blue Mountains Nationl Park, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World, published by Lonely Planet in 2013.
  2. Atlases, one for every two students, preferably the National Geographic Kids World Atlas.

If you’d like, you can turn this into a scored game.  I tend to avoid competitions and scoring, but in some schools the children are used to competitive, scored activities.  If you’d like to do this, let the kids tally one point if they guessed on the right two-page spread in the atlas.  The game is too difficult to ask for the correct country, but the correct region as shown on a two-page spread is reasonable.

In my library, I keep Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World in the reference section.  It can go home over the weekend with a parent, but is not part of weekly circulation.  Coffee table books like this one are so big and heavy that the kids drop them frequently.  And, every drop damages the binding.  So, coffee table books = reference books that need a bit of assistance when traveling.

I wrote this lesson while I was teaching at an international school in Germany.  It was intended for my 4th graders and their teachers (Shout Out to the amazing Mrs. Dektar and Mrs. Kumar!!) and so is Euro-centric.  If your school is somewhere else, choose locations that focus on the places closest to your school.  I like to take roughly half of the locations from the continent on which your kids go to school, and the second half from around the world.

Recommended books for this lesson: 

Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World, published by Lonely Planet in 2013.

Key Terms:

Landmarks, Atlases, Games, Geography, Maps