Earth’s Surface

A Science A–Z Earth Series
Word Count: 586

Earth’s
Surface

Written by Rhonda Lucas Donald

Visit www.sciencea-z.com

www.sciencea-z.com

Earth’s
Surface

Key elements Used in This Book
The Big Idea: Earth’s surface is the part of our planet that we interact
with every day. The land is composed of rocks and soil. Water covers
about 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Much of this is salt water found
in oceans. Fresh water can be found in lakes, ponds, rivers, and
underground. Earth’s surface is shaped into various landforms by
gravity, wind, water, and the movements of Earth’s crust. Earth’s
surface provides everything needed for life to thrive, including
shelter, food, and water.
Key words: canyon, cave, cliff, Earth, earthquake, fresh water, gravity, hill,
ice sheet, lake, land, landform, mountain, ocean, river, rock, salt water, soil,
surface, survive, valley, volcano
Key comprehension skill: Classify information
Other suitable comprehension skills: Author’s purpose; compare and
contrast; elements of genre; identify facts; main idea and details; retell
Key reading strategy: Connect to Prior Knowledge
Other suitable reading strategies: Ask and answer questions; summarize;
visualize; using a table of contents and headings; using a glossary and
bold terms
Photo Credits:
Front cover: © iStockphoto.com/Dan Wilton; back cover: © iStockphoto.com/Christian Wheatley; title page:
© Bernd Schmidt/123RF; page 3: © iStockphoto.com/HAIBO BI; page 4 (top): © Fancy Collection/Superstock;
page 4 (bottom): © iStockphoto.com/Catherine Yeulet; page 5: courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight
Center. Image by Reto Stöckli (land surface, shallow water, clouds). Enhancements by Robert Simmon
(ocean color, compositing, 3D globes, animation); page 6 (top): © Bill Grant/Alamy; page 6 (bottom):
© iStockphoto.com/Petek ARICI; page 7: © iStockphoto.com/ajijchan; page 8 (left): © Modfos/
Dreamstime.com; page 8 (right): © iStockphoto.com/Colin Soutar; page 9 (top): © iStockphoto.com/
Andrew Penner; page 9 (bottom): © iStockphoto.com/Knaupe; page 11: © iStockphoto.com/Mac99;
page 12 (top): © iStockphoto.com/Pgiam; page 12 (bottom): © Carr Clifton/Minden Pictures; page 13 (top):
© iStockphoto.com/Beboy_ltd; page 13 (bottom): © Diarmuid Toman/Alamy; page 14 (left): © Frans Lanting/
National Geographic Stock; page 14 (right): © Cristina Perez/123RF; page 15 (top): © Pasha66/
Dreamstime.com; page 15 (top center): © Peter Spirer/123RF; page 15 (center): © iStockphoto.com/John Solie;
page 15 (bottom center): © Tsekhmister/Dreamstime.com; page 15 (bottom): © Artem Gorohov/123RF;
page 16: © iStockphoto.com/Leroy Julien
Illustration Credits:
page 10: © Learning A–Z

Written by Rhonda Lucas Donald
www.sciencea-z.com

Earth’s Surface
© Learning A–Z
Written by Rhonda Lucas Donald
All rights reserved.
www.sciencea-z.com

Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction.. ..............................................  4

Earth is your home. Earth’s surface

Land................................................................ 6

is where you live and play. You

Water............................................................. 9
Earth’s Changing Surface.. .................. 1 1

can run in a field or ride a bike
on the sidewalk. You can jump
into the water and swim.

Quick Changes........................................ 13
Earth Is Our Home................................ 1 4
Conclusion. . ................................................ 16
Glossary. . ..................................................... 17
Index............................................................. 18

Children playing on Earth’s surface

3

4

Land

ice

Earth is called a rocky planet. The
land is mostly made of rock. Rocks

clouds

are hard chunks of Earth materials.
What else makes up Earth’s land?

land

water

Look at Earth’s surface from space.
The brown and green patches are
land. The blue areas are water.

Rocks come in
different shapes
and sizes.

Which do you think makes up more
of Earth’s surface, land or water?
All living things depend on Earth’s
land and water. You do, too!
5

6

Earth’s land has many shapes.
Some land is flat, like on a farm.
Some land is pointed, reaching
high into the sky to make huge
mountains. Caves and canyons
are also part of Earth’s surface.

Soil is also part of Earth’s surface.
Without soil, most plants could
not grow.

farmland

mountain

Soil is mostly tiny bits of rock.
Those tiny bits come from big

There are mountains and canyons under the
oceans. The tallest mountain on Earth is Mauna
Kea, in Hawaii. But most of it is underwater!
Only the top part sticks out above the water.

rocks that break down over time.
Bits of dead plants and animals
also get mixed in, along with water.
7

8

All that water is always moving.
Some ocean water turns into a
gas. It forms clouds. Rain and snow
salt water

fall from clouds onto the land.
As water falls, some of it goes into
the soil. Some of it fills up rivers
and lakes. Most rivers take the

fresh water

water back to the ocean. Now

Water
30% land

Only parts of Earth’s

the water has made a round trip!

70% water

surface are dry land.

2

3

Much more of our planet’s
surface is covered with water.
Most of it is salt water in the ocean.

1

4
5

Fresh water is found in lakes and

1 Water vapor rises

rivers. Ice sheets at Earth’s poles

from the ocean.

are made of fresh water, too. Fresh

2 Clouds form and
move over the land.

3 Rain falls from the

water is even found in the ground.

clouds onto the land.

9

10

4 Water soaks into the
soil or fills up rivers.

5 Rivers flow back into
the ocean.

Over many years, water and wind
can wear down rocks and move
them around. The land takes on
new shapes, called landforms. Caves,
canyons, and valleys are landforms.
So are mountains and cliffs.
Water and land are always on the

Gravity made these rocks fall.

move. Imagine

Earth’s Changing Surface

what Earth

You just learned that water is

might look like

always moving. What about land?

in the future!

It may seem the same all the time.
But guess again! Earth’s surface is

Some landforms have
really cool shapes!

changing all the time.
Sometimes soil or loose rocks slide
down slopes because of gravity.
Sometimes water or wind makes

Water cut through the land
to carve the Grand Canyon.

them become loose.
11

12

Earth Is Our Home

Quick Changes

Earth is a special planet because
it is home to so many living things.
Earth’s surface gives living things
what they need to survive, such
as food and a place to live.
Living things also need water.
Without water, living things—

a volcano
erupting

including people—could not survive.

Most changes to Earth’s surface happen
over a long, long time. But not all of them!
A volcano can build
a mountain in just
a few days!
Earthquakes also change
Earth’s surface quickly.
An earthquake happens
when a large part
of Earth’s surface
suddenly moves.

earthquake
damage

13

All living things need water to survive.

14

Conclusion

Earth’s surface
supplies everything

Earth’s surface is covered with

people need. We

land and water. The land is made

drink fresh water.

of rocks and soil, and it takes many

We grow food in

shapes. Both land and water are

soil and raise

always changing.

animals on the
land. We get metal

Living things use Earth’s surface for

and rocks from the

a place to live. Earth’s surface also

ground to make things.

supplies food and water. Earth has

Gas and coal from

everything needed for life. It is our

the ground run

beautiful home!

our cars and
warm our homes.

Plastic is not found in nature.
But to make plastic, people
use oil from Earth’s surface.
15

16

Glossary
fresh water water that is not salty,
found in rivers and
most lakes (p. 9)
lakes large bodies of water
with land all around
them (p. 9)
land the solid part of Earth’s
surface (p. 5)
landforms natural features of
Earth’s surface, such
as valleys, mountains,
or hills (p. 12)

salt water water that has salt in it,
found in oceans and
some lakes (p. 9)
soil the top layer of the
ground, in which
plants grow (p. 7)
surface the outside or top
part of a thing; the
part of the water
or land that touches
the air above it (p. 4)

Index

ocean the salt water that
covers most of Earth’s
surface or one of its
main sections (p. 9)
rivers large streams of water
that flow downhill
across land (p. 9)

animals,  7, 15

mountains,  8, 12, 13

canyons,  8, 12

plants, 7

caves,  8, 12

rain, 10

cliffs, 12

snow, 10

clouds, 10

valleys, 12

ice, 9

wind,  11, 12

rock the hard, solid material
that makes up Earth’s
land (p. 6)
17

18