Universe Cycle - Earth (2)

  • Exploring the characteristics of the Earth's surface.
  • Comparing the surface of the Earth.
  • continent
  • ocean
  • relief

Students use a globe to observe the Earth’s surface features.


The Earth and Moon are a unit that revolves around the Sun. The Moon has no surface water or atmosphere like the Earth, and is geologically inactive. The Earth is a very different place. The Earth, especially its surface, change continually over time.

Several factors contribute to changes in the Earth’s surface. Plate tectonics slowly and constantly reshapes the configuration of the continents and ocean basins, as well as raising mountains that sometimes form volcanoes. When volcanoes erupt, the lava creates different shapes on the surface.   The different components of the Water Cycle bring rain, snow, and ice to the surface of the Earth. Erosion and transport of loose material from the rain and ice slowly wear mountains and fill in low areas due to gravity.

In this activity, students will begin to look at the Earth in more detail. Locate and name the major land and ocean areas of the Earth’s surface. You may wish to emphasize that these areas change through time.

  1. Discuss with students where we get the information to see the surface of the Earth.  Before we had satellites it was very difficult to collect data because humans could not see the entire globe.  Early humans could not tell if the Earth was flat or spherical.  Play the song "Beep Beep" so students can understand that we actually use satellites to see the world today.  
  2. Divide the class into groups of two or three, depending on the number of globes you have available. Give each group an inflatable globe. If you have other relief maps, especially of your local area, you may wish to have them available for the students to examine.
  3. Students should  answer the questions on their lab sheets by examining the globes. Review the questions with the class in advance to make sure they understand what to do.
  4. Here are answers to the questions. These are specific to the inflatable globe. Other globes may have more or less information. If you use a different globe, be sure to review the information.
    1. Is there more land or water? More water (71%)
    2. How many oceans are there? Four

      Name them: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic (However, the globe shows a "Southern Ocean" and omits Arctic - You decide how to handle this discrepancy. Other globes may be different.)

    3. How many seas are there? Twenty five.

      Name them: Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Aral Sea, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Baltic Sea, Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea, North Sea, Labrador Sea, Antilles Sea, Beaufort Sea, Siberia Sea, Laptev Sea, Sea of Okkhotsk, Sea of Japan, Philippine Sea, East China Sea, South China Sea, Timor Sea, Coral Sea, Ross Sea, Amen Sea, Wedell Sea.

    4. How many continents are there? Six

      Name them: Africa, Australia, North America, South America, Eur-Asia, Antarctica. Although most books will say seven, it is difficult to divide Europe and Asia into two land masses. You decide if you want six or seven, be sure to explain your reasoning tho the class.

    5. Which continent has the most mountains? Eur-Asia
    6. Which continent has the most ice? Antarctica
    7. Which continent has the most tropical forests and jungles? South America
    8. Which ocean has the most islands? Pacific

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