Directions

Activity 1: Mountains, Rivers, and Vegetation of Europe

Photo: A river bend.

Students review what they have learned about physical features and their importance. Then they read a brief description of major physical features in Europe, locate them on a map, and compare them to country borders.

Activity 2: Drainage Basins in Europe

Photo: A drainage basin at the base of a mountain.

Students read about and trace drainage basins in Europe. They discuss issues around physical features, borders, and conflicts.

Objectives

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Geography
  • Language Arts
    • Reading
    • Writing (composition)
  • Science
    • Environmental

Objectives

Students will:

  • delineate major drainage basins in Europe
  • explore how countries within a drainage basin are connected by trade, transportation, and water use
  • consider how country borders can intersect physical features in different ways and discuss how this intersection can lead to cooperation or conflict
  • learn the locations of major rivers, mountain ranges, and vegetation of Europe
  • explore how these physical features line up with country borders in Europe

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Cooperative learning
  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Reading
  • Writing

National Standards, Principles, and Practices

IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts

  • Standard 1: Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • Standard 5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information
  • Standard 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface
  • Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places
  • Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface

ISTE Standards for Students (ISTE Standards*S)

Preparation

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Highlighters
  • Lesson 3, Activity 1 reading passage
  • Map transparencies
  • Pencils
  • Pens

Background & Vocabulary

Background Information

The physical environment provides the habitats to support life on Earth, including natural resources to support human activities. The elements of the physical environment are grouped into regions, generally based on similar characteristics. The boundaries of these physical regions are defined by assigning a particular value to the characteristics, such as topography. For example, the Alps mountain range forms part of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania. The Alpine peaks separate European regions and are the source of many of Europe’s major rivers, such as the Rhône, Rhine, Po, and many tributaries of the Danube.

 

A drainage basin, or watershed, is a land area from which all precipitation is drained by a stream system consisting of a single, or main, stream and all its tributaries. Drainage basins serve as functional regions. Individual drainage basins are separated by higher terrain or divides. Rivers have an organized channel flow from source to mouth. Water flows down a surface gradient from high elevations to lower elevations, independently of cardinal direction. For example, the Rhine River flows from its source in the Alps downstream in a generally northerly direction to its mouth in the North Sea. The drainage basins of most European rivers lie in mountainous areas that receive heavy precipitation, including snow. Drainage is directly, or via the Baltic and the Mediterranean seas, to the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and to the enclosed Caspian Sea.


Prior Knowledge

    Recommended Prior Lessons

    • None


    Vocabulary

    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

    agriculture

    the art and science of cultivating the land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'agriculture', 'id': 4, 'title': u'agriculture'}

    biome

    area of the planet which can be classified according to the plant and animal life in it.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'biome', 'id': 136, 'title': u'biome'}

    border

    natural or artificial line separating two pieces of land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'border', 'id': 272, 'title': u'border'}

    boreal forest

    land covered by evergreen trees in cool, northern latitudes. Also called taiga.

    climate

    all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'climate', 'id': 173, 'title': u'climate'}

    coast

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'coast', 'id': 19, 'title': u'coast'}

    continent

    one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'continent', 'id': 307, 'title': u'continent'}

    country

    geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.

    crop

    agricultural produce.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'crop', 'id': 281, 'title': u'crop'}

    desert

    area of land that receives no more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation a year.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'desert', 'id': 322, 'title': u'desert'}

    drainage basin

    an entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries. Also called a watershed.

    fjord

    long, narrow ocean inlet between steep slopes.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'fjord', 'id': 140, 'title': u'fjord'}

    forest

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    geography

    study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'geography', 'id': 156, 'title': u'geography'}

    glacier

    mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'glacier', 'id': 128, 'title': u'glacier'}

    highlands

    plateau or elevated region of land.

    hydroelectric power

    usable energy generated by moving water converted to electricity.

    latitude

    distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'latitude', 'id': 115, 'title': u'latitude'}

    lowland

    slow-flowing river ecosystem usually found in lower altitudes.

    map

    symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'map', 'id': 157, 'title': u'map'}

    mountain

    landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

    mountain range

    series or chain of mountains that are close together.

    natural resource

    a material that humans take from the natural environment to survive, to satisfy their needs, or to trade with others.

    ocean

    large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'ocean', 'id': 97, 'title': u'ocean'}

    peninsula

    piece of land jutting into a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'peninsula', 'id': 65, 'title': u'peninsula'}

    physical features

    naturally occurring geographic characteristics.

    plain

    flat, smooth area at a low elevation.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'plain', 'id': 66, 'title': u'plain'}

    pollution

    introduction of harmful materials into the environment.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'pollution', 'id': 285, 'title': u'pollution'}

    precipitation

    all forms in which water falls to Earth from the atmosphere.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'precipitation', 'id': 191, 'title': u'precipitation'}

    region

    any area on the Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'region', 'id': 267, 'title': u'region'}

    river

    large stream of flowing fresh water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'river', 'id': 206, 'title': u'river'}

    sea level

    base level for measuring elevations. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a 19-year cycle.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'sea-level', 'id': 313, 'title': u'sea level'}

    steppe

    dry, flat grassland with no trees and a cool climate.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'steppe', 'id': 257, 'title': u'steppe'}

    territory

    land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.

    trade

    buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

    transportation

    movement of people or goods from one place to another.

    tributary

    stream that feeds, or flows, into a larger stream.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'tributary', 'id': 270, 'title': u'tributary'}

    tundra

    cold, treeless region in Arctic and Antarctic climates.

    vegetation

    all the plant life of a specific place.

    watershed

    entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'watershed', 'id': 318, 'title': u'watershed'}

    Credits

    Media Credits

    The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

    Activity 1 Credits

    Writer

    Shelley Sperry, Sperry Editorial

    Editor

    Kim Hulse, National Geographic Society
    Kathleen Schwille, National Geographic Society
    Emmy Scammahorn, National Geographic Society
    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
    Emily Wade, B.A. Philosophy, B.A. English

    Educator Reviewer

    Brian Blouet, The College of William & Mary
    Olwyn Blouet, Virginia State University
    Michal LeVasseur, Ph.D., National Geographic Alliance Network Liaison
    Ian Muehlenhaus, University of Minnesota
    Alexander Murphy, Professor of Geography and Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography, University of Oregon
    Peter Rees, University of Delaware
    Joseph Stoltman, Western Michigan University
    Audrey Mohan, 2007-2008 Grosvenor Scholar, National Geographic Society

    Expert Reviewer

    Margaret A. Legates, Coordinator, Delaware Geographic Alliance

    National Geographic Program

    2008 Summer Geography Institute: Beyond Borders

    Other

    Special thanks to the educators who participated in National Geographic's 2008-2009 National Teacher Leadership Academy (NTLA), for testing activities in their classrooms and informing the content for all of the Beyond Borders: Using Maps to Understand European Physical and Cultural Landscapes resources.

    Activity 2 Credits

    Writer

    Shelley Sperry, Sperry Editorial

    Editor

    Kim Hulse, National Geographic Society
    Kathleen Schwille, National Geographic Society
    Emmy Scammahorn, National Geographic Society
    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
    Emily Wade, B.A. Philosophy, B.A. English

    Educator Reviewer

    Brian Blouet, The College of William & Mary
    Olwyn Blouet, Virginia State University
    Michal LeVasseur, Ph.D., National Geographic Alliance Network Liaison
    Ian Muehlenhaus, University of Minnesota
    Alexander Murphy, Professor of Geography and Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography, University of Oregon
    Peter Rees, University of Delaware
    Joseph Stoltman, Western Michigan University
    Audrey Mohan, 2007-2008 Grosvenor Scholar, National Geographic Society

    Expert Reviewer

    Margaret A. Legates, Coordinator, Delaware Geographic Alliance

    National Geographic Program

    2008 Summer Geography Institute: Beyond Borders

    Other

    Special thanks to the educators who participated in National Geographic's 2008-2009 National Teacher Leadership Academy (NTLA), for testing activities in their classrooms and informing the content for all of the Beyond Borders: Using Maps to Understand European Physical and Cultural Landscapes resources.

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