Divide the class into pairs. Post the following questions:
What are physical characteristics?
What physical characteristics do you associate with Maryland?
Ask students to discuss possible responses with their partners. Share a few of the responses with the entire class.
2. Explain the term physical characteristics. These characteristics include landforms, vegetation, and bodies of water. Tell students that experts, called geographers, often use landforms to talk about regions of our country. Remind students that there are many types of regions--not just those based on natural features.
3. Tell students that the world is filled with objects and artifacts, which are objects we make or use. Explain that objects and artifacts can be learning sources, which help us better understand our world.
Display the following items: apples, pears, peaches, and corn; an oyster shell; a piece of coal; a bundle of wheat. Ask students to work with their partners to speculate on what the objects (or artifacts) might tell us about our world. Share a few student responses.
Tell students that these objects can help us better understand the similarities and differences in the regions of Maryland. Display and post the names of the three main land regions in Maryland: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont Plateau, and the Appalachian region. Identify the location of each region on a map and discuss the major landforms for which each region is named.
Conduct a class brainstorming session to identify and record on chart paper what the students think they know about the three land regions in Maryland. Tell students that they will use what they know about the regions to predict the region in which each object is most likely to be found. Model these predictions with the objects in the basket.
After providing time for students to make predictions, ask them how they might confirm or disprove their predictions. Share a few student responses.
4. Distribute a text reading about each region. (See Sample Reading below.) After providing time for students to read, lead a discussion in which students cite portions of the text that enabled them to confirm or disprove their predictions. As necessary, use the think-aloud strategy and text citation to identify coal with the Appalachian region, an oyster shell with the Atlantic Coastal Plain, and wheat with the Piedmont Plateau. (See Sample Think-Aloud below.)
5. Display a picture of a heavily forested mountainous region. Ask students to record their answer to the following question on an exit card:
In which region of Maryland was this picture most likely taken? Explain your thinking by using your background knowledge.
6. Select a location in the room to display objects and artifacts that can provide information about Maryland. Place the basket of fruit and corn, the oyster shell, the piece of coal, and the wheat on a display table.
Ask students to search their homes and neighborhoods to locate objects or artifacts (or pictures of objects and artifacts) that can be identified with the state of Maryland. Students should record the name of each object and the place it was found.