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Physical Features

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Students will identify the physical features that define where people live.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


Students will identify the physical features that define where people live.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Social Studies


  • Second grade
  • Third grade

Class Time

Sessions: One
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Whole group

Terms and Concepts

  • Rural
  • Urban
  • Physical features (lakes, rivers, etc.)
  • Landmark


  • Large paper for chart
  • Copies of "Our Great States" booklet (pages 10-14)
  • Copies of the "Physical Features" worksheet (page 16)
  • Crayons (optional)
  • If possible, pictures of different regions in the United States where people live (plains, cities, communities by water, mountain communities, etc.)


  • Read over lesson.
  • Make "Our Great States" booklets (pages 10-14).
  • Label chart with three columns: Our State; The Same Physical Features; and Other States.
  • Draw large outline of home state.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at

  1. Hand out copies of the "Our Great States" booklet (pages 10-14).
  2. Read through the booklet as a class. Have a class discussion in which students list the physical features they see on the coin representations (water, trees, buildings, mountains, birds, leaves, etc.). Explain what a landmark is and have students attempt to identify landmarks on the quarters.
  3. The teacher should list these features on the chart in the section labeled "Other States."
  4. Following are some sample questions that may be useful for discussion:
    • Why did Virginia and New Jersey show bodies of water on their coins?
    • Why did South Carolina, Connecticut, and Maryland include trees and leaves?
    • Why would they be an important feature?
  5. Have the class talk about the physical features and landmarks of their surrounding areas (these need not be natural objects). List these features on the chart in the section labeled "Our State."
  6. If there are similarities between the physical features displayed on the coins and those in the students' surroundings, list them in the middle section of the chart labeled "The Same Physical Features." Have the students attempt to explain why the physical features are similar.
  7. Distribute the "Physical Features" worksheet (page 16). Have students look at the pictures of rural and urban areas and communities on the page and have them list the physical features of each one.
  8. Students will be assessed by listing at least two physical features for each picture.


  1. Have students write an essay about where they would like to live and why.
  2. Students can research more information about a state and compare and contrast it with their own state. 
  3. Students can ask their families about what they like best about their region and share it with the class.

Assess the students' ability to list at least two physical features for each picture.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Use of Spoken, Written, and Visual Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: All Communication
Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication 
  • communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others;
  • analyze and evaluate the mathematical thinking and strategies of others; and
  • use the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely.   

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Effective Communication
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features