Lesson Plan

Physical Features of the Earth

Desert sandstones and snow-capped mountains

NPS photo by Neal Herbert

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade
Earth Science, Geology
National/State Standards:
Utah State Standard Core Curriculum Topic, Standard Two: Students will understand that volcanoes, earthquakes, uplift, weathering, and erosion shape Earth's surface.
erosion, weathering, earthquakes, uplift, arch formation, fossil, fault, deposition, geologic layers


Students assemble jigsaw puzzles in the classroom informing them about the different types of rock and the rock cycle. At a field trip site, students examine a limestone layer to find fossils and make clay models to reenact movement along a local fault. They explore and model the formation of arches, and learn the names and deposition histories of the rock layers surrounding them. Back in the classroom, a mapping activity demonstrates what causes many earthquakes: plate tectonics.