Geography technical vocabulary

Here are a list of technical vocabulary your child might encounter during their geography journey at Sherwood.  

Vocabulary is taught throughout the units of work and children are encouraged to explore new vocabulary.


  • clock: an instrument for measuring and recording time
  • colour words: red, brown, yellow, green etc.
  • day: time from sunrise to sunset each day, in relation to the Earth’s rotation on its axis
  • descriptive temperature words: warm, cold, cool, dry, hot etc.
  • far: distant
  • farm: where animals and crops are raised and grown
  • near: close
  • night: time from sunset to sunrise each day, in relation to the Earth’s rotation on its axis
  • often: many times
  • park: land or large garden where people walk or play
  • plant: a living organism that gets its food through photosynthesis
  • rarely: not often
  • sand: Fine particles of rocks and stones
  • school: building where children learn
  • weather words: sun, rain, clouds, rainbow etc.

Year 1

  • Antarctic: a polar region in the South Pole
  • Arctic: a polar region in the North Pole
  • beach: a landform by the sea. usually sand and/or rock
  • continent: land mass defined by physical, human, or cultural features: Europe, Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Oceania, North America or South America
  • desert: A dry area of land which receives very little rain or precipitation
  • equator: imaginary line/circle of latitude around the Earth, midway between North and South Poles, dividing the Earth into Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The Equator lies at 0° latitude: the midday Sun is always high in the sky. Because the sun is never far from being overhead, the Sun’s rays are very concentrated and so temperatures are high
  • man-made: something built by humans
  • map: plan of a place, from above
  • natural: the opposite of man-made, something created naturally through a process of the earth, such as wind, water, volcanoes, earthquakes or plants growing.
  • North Pole: the most northerly place of the Earth
  • ocean: a body of salt water
  • plan: outlines of a room or rooms, from above
  • seasons: a time of year marked by certain conditions: spring, summer, autumn, winter
  • South Pole: the most southerly place of the Earth.
  • temperature: measured level of heat or cold in the air
  • weather: conditions in the atmosphere on a particular day, such as temperature, windiness, rainfall, hours of sunshine or cloud cover

Year 2

  • Amazon River: the longest river in South America. It flows through Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil
  • bay: an indentation of a shoreline. Usually of softer rock
  • city: a large town or human settlement.
  • cliff: a vertical or near vertical rock feature, usually on the coast
  • compass points: points on a magnetic compass marking the four main directions: North, South, East, West
  • fauna: animals native to an area, such as birds, reptiles and insects
  • fell: a hill or stretch of high moorland, especially in northern England.
  • flora: plants native to an area, such as trees, climbers, flowers and grasses
  • forest: large area covered with trees
  • harbour: a sheltered port where boats can dock
  • human feature: Something that has been built by humans and would not have existed in nature without humans.
  • key: symbols on a map, and what they mean
  • mountain: large landform, often with a peak, rising and earth rising high above the surrounding area; higher and steeper than a hill
  • north, south, east, west: compass points, locational vocabulary
  • Physical feature: naturally occurring, e.g. rivers, mountains, lakes
  • pier: a structure built on posts that extends out to sea
  • promenade: a public walk by the seaside
  • river: natural watercourse, flowing downhill towards the sea, ocean or a lake
  • seaside: a tourist resort by the coast
  • slum: a densely-populated and run-down area of a city, associated with poverty
  • symbol: picture on a map to show a feature on land
  • tourism: a worldwide industry based on travel for leisure, pleasure, business, and other reasons that provides information, amenities, attractions, accommodation etc.
  • vegetation: area where similar types of plant life grow, adapted to the conditions there
  • village: place where people live, smaller than a town.
  • wood: land covered with trees, smaller than a forest

Year 3

  • active volcano: a volcano that has had an eruption in the last 10,000 years, and it is possible it may erupt in the future
  • coast: the region where land meets sea
  • country: political area defined by physical, human or cultural features
  • crater: a cup-shaped depression in the surface of the earth, caused by volcanic activity’
  • earthquake: movements, fractures and vibrations in the earth’s crust as tectonic plates move
  • dock: a structure for handling boats and ships and their cargo
  • dormant volcano: a volcano that has not erupted in the last 10,000 years, but it is possible that it will erupt in the future
  • eruption: the ejection of rock and gas from a volcano
  • extinct volcano: a volcano that has not had an eruption in the last 10,000 years, and will not erupt in the future
  • lava: molten, fluid rock that is ejected from a volcano and solidifies as it cools
  • modern: something that belongs to the present
  • plate boundary: where two tectonic plates meet
  • Richter scale: a scale to measure the magnitude of an earthquake
  • tectonic plate: a massive slab of rock that ‘floats’ on top of the mantle (and inner layer) of the Earth
  • tsunami: a series of waves of water caused by the movement of tectonic plates below the surface

Year 4

  • channel: a landform, it is the outline of the path that a river takes
  • condensation: the change of a state of matter – from gas to liquid
  • confluence: the meeting of two or more streams of water
  • environment: conditions to which a plant, animal or person is adapted
  • estuary: where the mouth of a river broadens as it meets the sea
  • evaporation: the change of a state of matter – from liquid to gas
  • grassland: large area covered with grasses
  • infiltration: the process where water seeps into the ground (soil or rock)
  • percolation: the movement of rainwater through soil and rock
  • precipitation: forms of water that fall through the sky, e.g. rain, snow, sleet etc.
  • rainfall: measured level of water that has fallen as rain, snow, sleet or hail in a given period
  • run-off: water that flows over the earth and does not evaporate away or filter into the ground
  • source: the original point where a river begins
  • tributary: a river or stream that flows into a larger river
  • wetland: swamp or marsh near a river or coast

Year 5

  • Amazon Basin: the area drained by the River Amazon and all of its tributaries
  • altitude: the height of something above sea level
  • Antarctic circle: imaginary line/circle about 66.5° south of the Equator
  • Arctic circle: imaginary line/circle about 66.5° north of the Equator
  • biome: geographical area defined by its climate, plant and animal life and the activities of the people who live there
  • climate: weather patterns in a place over a long period, such as seasonal rainfall, sunshine and temperatures
  • headland: promontory of land jutting into the sea. Usually of harder rock
  • latitude: imaginary horizontal line used to show NSS position on the Earth’s surface
  • lines of latitude: imaginary parallel lines/circles, horizontal to the Equator, that never meet, and get smaller towards the Poles
  • lines of longitude: imaginary north-to-south lines/ circles, meeting at the North and South Poles to make segments. They are all the same length and go from pole to pole.
  • longitude: imaginary vertical line used to show E-W position on the Earth’s surface
  • migration: the movement of people or animals from one place to another
  • Northern Hemisphere: half of the Earth north of the Equator
  • passport: a document that entitles you to travel to different countries.
  • port: a place where ships load or unload
  • Southern Hemisphere: half of the Earth south of the Equator
  • tide: the periodic rise and fall of the sea caused by the movement of the moon and the sun

Year 6

  • common: land that everyone can use
  • coral: marine invertebrates that typically live in compact colonies in the sea
  • endangered: a species which is at risk of becoming extinct
  • drought: period with very little or no rain
  • dunes: sandy mounds by the sea or in a desert
  • erosion: a process where the surface of the earth is worn away by, e.g. water, wind, waves etc.
  • glacier: a mass of ice that moves very slowly down from mountains
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS): internationally used way of pinpointing an exact location on the Earth’s surface using space-based satellite technology
  • International Date Line (iDl): a line of latitude. It is an imaginary north-to-south line/circle running through the Pacific Ocean, approximately along the 180° meridian from avoiding land
  • mountain range: a chain of mountains
  • Ordnance Survey (OS) grid references: the UK is covered by a grid of maps that are given letters.
  • peak: the top of a mountain
  • Prime Meridian (Greenwich Meridian, PM): imaginary line/circle passing through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, London, marking 0° longitude
  • remote: a location far away from cities or towns – away from people and populations
  • time zone: area between lines of longitude following a standard time
  • tropic of Cancer: imaginary line/circle about 23.5° north of the Equator; the furthest north where the Sun appears overhead once a year
  • tropic of Capricorn: imaginary line/circle about 23.5° south of the Equator; the furthest south that the Sun appears overhead once a year.
  • tropical: to do with the region on either side of the Equator, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn
  • tundra: land where the soil beneath the surface is frozen all year and trees cannot survive the low temperatures and short growing season

Contact Us

Sherwood Primary School, Sherwood Way, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 9GA

Tel: 01772 719093 | Email:

SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Enquiries | Mrs K Hobson