Forming continents, islands, mountains, valleys and rivers works with mashed potatoes, beach sand, mud in the back yard and pixels in the virtual world. Terraforming physical landform characteristics including mountains, valleys, rivers, oceans, lakes and beaches is as easy as a click with a mouse on the correct tool and then sliding or moving the mouse in a circular motion to raise, lower, flatten, roughen and smooth the land.
The size of the area as well as the strength of the tool is adjusted as desired. A little practice in an empty “sandbox” is typically enough to get the “feel” for pressure and size attributes. Adding Flora and fauna to the newly formed topography is an opportunity to learn about climate, elevations and ecosystems.
Geography standards include various elements of map reading. Reading the maps in a virtual world and being able to zoom in provides not only the opportunity for recognizing the use of a legend, direction, location and distance, but also the ability to see influences of hydrology and physical characteristics of a place.