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Maps & Globes

Compiled By: Editor

Activities for teaching about maps and globes

relief maps
Posted by: cindy

I have had my students do their relief make their relief maps at school and other times at home depending on the maturity and parent availability.

First students bring a 12 x 12 inch board to school. I prefer wood, but some teachers use card board.

Second, students trace the shape of their state/country onto the board. (I enlarge theme for them on the copier)

Next, students use FREEZER, Gallon sized zip lock baggies to mix their dough in. Measure in flour and salt 2 to 1. Add a splash of vegetable oil, and one cup of water to start with. push out all the air, and squeeze and squish until the dough is mixed. (for younger students, make this homework and bring the dough ball in the baggie to school)

Last, take the ball of dough and put in on the board in the middle of the map shaped. Push and move it until it fills in the map. Pinch dough for mountains, use a dull pencil to carve rivers.

Prepare ahead of time flags on toothpicks of important places such as the state capitol, mountain ranges, geography zones, etc. Push flags into soft dough.

after it dries student can paint the maps using green for valley and farm lands, brown for mountains, yellow for deserts, etc.

have fun. At your grade level, parent help on the day for forming the maps is really helpful.

globes and maps
Posted by: Julianne

One fun activity is to peel an orange. Have students discuss the shape of the earth. Show a globe and discuss how it is a model of the earth. But could explorers carry around a globe? Have kids discuss this idea. What would be the problems with it? Too big, not detailed enough, etc. Someone will say something about maps. You can lead the discussion to how a map isn't a true model of the earth. The next part you can do as a whole group activity with you doing the work, or you can work in small groups. Peel an orange and try to lay the peel out as one smooth sheet. I like to try out the oranges ahead of time and find one where the peel separates from the orange easily. A tangerine sometimes works better. Anyway, the point is for the kids to see that the curved skin just can't be made to lay in a flat sheet like a map. How did map makers solve this problem? Now you can discuss that and the kids can come up with their own ideas while you fill in the real ways maps are distorted to show land masses.

Posted by: Carolyn

One idea:

This is called "Torn-Paper Mosaics":

If you are working on a regions of the U. S., for example, have your students create a torn-paper mosaic. Duplicate on outline map of the U. S. for each student in your class on light-colored construction paper. Give each studnet one of the U. S. maps, glue, and half sheets of 8 1/2 x 11"
construction paper in eight different colors. Instruct the students to tear each sheet of construction apart into small pieces, making a different pile for each color. On the chalkboard, write the names of the regions of the U. S. Assign a different construction paper color to each region. Direct the student to cover each region of the map with the corresponding colored pieces of torn paper. have the student title the map and create a key, then have them refer to these colorful maps throughout your regional study of the U. S.

Of course, this activity could be modified for other countries of the world--Canada, Europe, etc.

Posted by: JMC

Here are a few other ideas for mapping: I use masking tape and make a large grid 4x5 or 3x4 on the floor. Then I ask the students what kind of places are in our school neighbourhood (school, houses, train station, factory, Chruch, swimming pool...) and I make symbols for them with their help. Then I place them on the grid in some similar fashion to where they are outside. Then I put letter and number cards down and have them give me co-ordinates. You could do this in class, outside with chalk or in the gym. They love doing this. I also have some real simple maps that are similar and they have to draw objects in the given co-ordinates. We also talk about directions and find north, south, east and west in the class and then I ask them to tell me where their desk is and other objects. I also give them instructions: walk 2 steps north, 5 steps east....
I use a computer drawing program (Kidpix) and have the students draw a map for Santa or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy to find their house. They have to add 3-5 landmarks so character knows the way and which is the right house. They enjoy this. You could attach it to their Christmas list. Hope this sparks some ideas.

Posted by: Sherry

I have my 3rd graders draw a map showing how to get to their house from our school. They have to include street names, landmarks, and their physical address. Once I get all the maps, I take a Saturday and go to each house. I send notes to the parents beforehand letting them know my plan and that I won't have time to come in and visit. When I get to each house, I put a letter to my student that says "I found you. Your map was so easy to follow!" on their porch or I tape it to the door. The kids love it, several times I have driven up to find students sitting on their porch waiting for me. This is my 3rd year to do this project and I enjoy it as much as they do, although it does take up an entire Saturday to go to all 20 houses!

Posted by: Susan

I use the salt clay maps to make mine. The kids love it and it's really easy to do. It takes usually 2 days (we have a lot of humidity here) for them to dry before you can paint them. I put the kids into groups of about 4-5 each. I think the recipe is 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 2 cups water. I'll have to double check. I did 2 batches for my whole class.

Posted by: Sandi

On Monday we are making North America. I have large Pizza Discs we will color blue. The we will Tace the 3 major countries, Canada, the USA and Mexico.(Teaher should prepare about 6 sets to trace, one for every 3-4 students) I always use old file folders and cut them out. We cover Canada in blue playdough, I remind them that Canada is far fromt eh equator and that your fingernails may turn blue in the winter. I use white playdough to cover the USA and Red to cover Mexico ( Mexico, being closer to the equator would be hotter and you might get sunburnned there, also they like spicy hot food!) Before the playdough hardens we add tiny flags on toothpicks and put one one each country. The flags can be found on the net and you can shrink them on your copy machine. I use to make the playdough myself, but now I ask moms to come in and we make it in class with the kids in small groups during science or math. We measure and watch small solids mix with liguids.....we also learn about blending colors.
Our new map curriculum has tons of hands on art ideas, if this one won't work email me,we can come up wiht another. My daughter is doing student teaching this year too... It can be stressful. i'd be happy to help in any way I can.

Posted by: chris

I have taught a mapping lesson with K - 1 children . We begin by looking at several different kinds of maps and discuss the markings that we see. Pointing out the compass rose and the map key. I then talk about the lines on the map are like the lines on our palms of our hands. We talk about fictional maps and what types of things might be shown on their map. We make a list on the chalkboard of things they might want to show and talk about the symbol that they may choose to use too. We then also talk about directions (N,S,E,W). I model all this after our discussion on the chalkboard, but larger. I make a large hand and then draw the lines from the palm of my hand. For the younger children I trace around their hands and have them add the major lines that they see on their palms. Some children want the lines to be streets, highways, roads (great vocabulary) lakes, streams, train tracks. We then use our list from the chalkboard to add other points of interest on their hand maps. I usually limit it to no more than 3 or 4 items, since their hands are small and everything they want to put on is more than their handprint map can hold. They draw forest, grocery stores, churches, parks, schools, hospitals, etc. We then regroup and talk about the map key and again I demonstrate on the chalkboard using my sample, making illustrations to symbolize each point of interest. Last we talk about the compass rose and what it represents and why it is useful. On their map they too make a compass rose labeling each direction. they can use their last name as the title of their map such as (Jonesville). Later it is fun to have the children share their hand maps and tell us where one point of interest is ( the church is north of the school) For older children I have entended this same lesson but used a large piece of butcher paper and had groups of two children work together to make a fictional map specifiying specific points of interest that they should have. The also name their map and write questions for others to find points of interest. They write stories about their maps and depending on the age level could use a scale to measure for distance from point to point. This sample activity can be used on the computer using KidPix. I hope all this helps. Chris

Posted by: Anneliese

I have a few ideas that I learned from a colleague. To start we use maps with continents labeled on our desk. I guide the students in tapping the approximate spot on their desk where the conintent is on the map. I do this by drawing a rectangle on the board to use as my desk and I face the board so I am using the same hands they are. We touch the spots and say the names as we go around the map: North America South America... Then we do it without the maps and eventually I touch a spot on the rectangle and they tell me which continent it would be.

Another idea is a cooperative group project where students create a map of the continents by tearing color coded pieces of construction paper in the approximate shape and relative size of the continent. These are then glued on a large sheet of blue construction paper, the oceans are labeled as are the continents and a compass rose is added.

As a culminating activity to the unit on continents I have the students plan a trip. They pick a country on a continent other than North America and then complete a worksheet with informaion about the distance and general direction a flight from NYC would take, what oceans they would fly over if it flew directly to the country, the average temperature for the area and what they would want to see. Some of this information comes from maps in our text books and some from web sites. Then the students have to add this to a framed paragraph and pack a suitcase to bring in with appropriate clothing and at least 5 extra items that would be appropriate. This is used in an oral presentation. The students receive extra credit if they "send" a postcard (they create) to the teacher or class.

Hope these help.

map skills
Posted by: Sue W

"Map Analysis" was a an activity that worked really well with third graders. During the map study unit I had kids bring in maps they found; road maps, grocery store product directories, amusement park maps. We got some unusual ones as well,a lake bottom map from a junior fisherman, a map showing airports from a pilot's son.
At the end of the unit the kids were divided into groups of 3 or 4 and rotated around the room to study the different maps. I gave them a Map Analysis sheet with things to look for together.
What is the name of your map?
Who would use this map and for what reason?
Does you map have a map key?
Is there a compass rose?
What is the scale of your map?
Does your map show cities, roads and water?

I think I enjoyed this activity as much as the kids did, and if you could use a smile, check out the "Why would it be used/" question, there's bound to be a chuckle or two.

Here's what we did!
Posted by: Kathy

We did a great map project this year--it was my first time to do this activity, but won't be my last. (I teach grades 3 and 4, but it could easily be done with older students.)

We made US maps out of cookie dough and then decorated them after they were cooked. We used chocoate chips for the mountain, colored green/yellow icing to show elevations, and blue frosting for the oceans and rivers.

We worked with learning clubs so we had four different maps. I cut out a pattern from a plastic mat to form the original "cookie." (We did have to trim them some after they were baked--one lesson learned!) Another thing that was wasted time (as far as finished product was concerned though they definitely learned something in the process!) was trying to form plateaus with the dough before we baked it. (Of course, they all leveled off in the end!)

They used their social studies books so they knew how to color the maps and where to place the rivers, lakes and mountains. (I listed on a worksheet all the things I wanted them to include.) We displayed the finished products and eventurally ate them!

They had a great time with this project and I think learned a lot! I will definitely do it again--although probably with adult helpers for each group.

Posted by: Misty

My class worked in five groups to become experts on a region. We made a collaborative U.S. map that was color coded by region. The students gave presentations that included a paragraph written on a specific topic: states and capitals, natural resources, landforms and bodies of water, and climate. Some of these topics were harder than others and I delegated them according to ability. The kids also had to find and share at least one interesting fact about their region. They brought some kind of visual aide as well. It could be a prop or something they made.
If your interested I have a rubric that I used to grade this. I gave grades on the map.(Which I displayed on the bulletin board during the unit) I gave indiviual grades on paragraphs as well as group grades on presentations. I followed it up with individual maps that were copies of the class map. I got blank U.S. maps from our local teacher store, and the kids had to put state abbreviations and capitals. We also colored our individual maps by region just like our class map. At the end of the unit I auctioned off the class map and got 27 behavior points for it! That is amazing considering we only get ten points per week. The kids loved it.

Posted by: Sarah

You could make a map "scavenger hunt" make a list of items the should find on a map and circle them, (have a different list for a few teams). Items could include, a city that starts with I, an airport marker, mile marker, any kind of legend items, state park, etc... Have them draw a map from your school to their home, how do they get to school each day? OR Draw a map from your classroom to the cafeteria, and office, etc..

Map Centers
Posted by: Denise

I would provide all kinds of maps: population maps, climate maps, topographical maps, etc. Have you ever tried creating a battery map--one in which you put aluminum foil on the back of the poster. The kids can check to see if their answers are right by correctly matching the correct wire to the correct answer. If they do, then the light bulb lights up. I would also give them some Play Doh to create topographical maps. Leave a sample of the map, let's say the United States, then have them create the topography of the United States. You could put books about weather and climate alongside your climate maps.

continents and oceans
Posted by: Curious

For any activity where students have to memorize locations, (continents and oceans, states and capitals in a region, south american countries and capitals) I have made a shower curtain game. What I did was make an over head of the map, and then traced it onto a shower curtain. I then colored it and made cards that are to be placed onto the large "game board." The cards are the names of the continents and oceans in the case of the continents and ocean map.

I then give students a blank map, and they make their own cards (smaller) by cutting up index cards and putting them in an envelope. They then get a miniature version, that is correctly labeled as the key. They take this game home to study.

We then play the "game" as a large group. One student places the cards onto the map. They all get a turn practicing, and then we time them the second time around.

I then have all the maps in a center in my room for them to practice and time themselves at any time during the year. The timing piece is a bit contraversial. I don't make a big deal out of "who is the fastest." But I find that the kids spend more time studying at home because they LOVE playing the game in class. We talk about strategies for remember certain locations, especially when we are doing the states and capitals.

Oh yeah- with states and capitals. . . first they use the state cards to place on the map. Then they use the state cards to match with the capitals. It is a way of making something that is more rote memorization hands on.

Hope this idea helps.

map skills
Posted by: Mary Mifflin

In addition to letting the students work with the globes, and our classroom map & posters, I give them maps from different states, road maps, National Geographic maps, county maps, any that I've collected. They love looking at them, seeing what is the same and different, locating places, rivers, lakes, etc. Sometimes I add magnifying glasses to encourage them to read the fine print.
Another idea is to let them make a salt dough map showing the continents, paint it, labeling the oceans, etc. I may or may not do this, depending on time.

Travel Theme
Posted by: BuzyBee

**Get one of those large styrofoam planes (cheap at the dollar store) and put your name on it in really big bold letters. Write on the plane "YOUR-LAST-NAME Airways: Where Learning Takes Flight"

**Have all of the students create a passport the first day. Take a digital picture and glue inside. They can add sheets describing places/things they visit throughout the year. Instant portfolio!

**Make a large highway that goes up your wall. Put several exit signs for different places you plan to explore.

**Get travel brochures from agencies and display them in a center. Encourage students to design their own.

**If you are writing students a letter explaining the "meet me on the playground at 8:30" maybe you could include a personalized "ticket" for the occassion.

**For a jobs chart, put up a blue background with little green islands. Each island represents one job. Write student names on planes, ships, hot air balloons, spaceships, etc. for them to rotate to different jobs.

**Put up a big banner that says "Welcome to a new adventure." OR "Success is not a destination, it's a journey"

**For a class reward, move an airplane across a large map of the earth or a spaceship through the solar system. Work toward the end goal.

***Collect old maps from National Geographic magazines and use them to decorate. You can tear them into pieces and decoupage them over bookshelves, pencil holders, book crates, an author's chair...the possiblities are endless..even a wooden block for a hall pass.

...Cover bulletin boards with an old maps for a background.

...Have a traveling pet project so that your class can "visit" these places along with your pet.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: teachnkids

This has been a favorite of mine to start the year off. We do many of the ideas already mentioned, but our culmination project is two part: !)we create our own town 2) we create edible maps

Our own town---partners come up with a name of a town, 10 places they want to feature on their town, name the places and create a symbol for each place to go on the map. Next they use large paper to make their map. It is a wonderful open ended creation. The only requirements are the ones I've stated. It is amazing to see the creativity that comes out.

Edible Maps----the following link gives the ingredients( I often do not use the peanut butter because of allergy issues)
This time they all create a map individually---They must be able to tell me what each food item has been used for and what kind of map they have created--country, city, state, continent, etc. Once again those creative juices really amaze me. Even though this does get kind of messy it is known by the 2nd graders that come to me in 3rd that they will do this in the beginning of the year!

Good luck!

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Found Lesson Plan for OWA
Posted by: Janie

The teacher who gave me this lesson plan is awesome. He also gave me a cd full of Social Studies activities. I am trying to copy on the SS board for a resource. Enjoy!

An Orange with Attitude
Presented by Purley Decker, AIG 2000

The purpose of this lesson is to help children to visualize the difference between latitude and longitude.

This activity uses oranges to demonstrate the difference between latitude and longitude.

Grade Range:
Grades 3-12

Geography standard: 1

Materials Needed:
One orange for each student plus one for the teacher.
Non-toxic markers.

Students will gain a visual understanding of the difference between latitude and longitude.

1. Give each student an orange and a marker.
2. Tell the students not to peel their oranges.
3. Explain that the stem end of the orange represents the North Pole and the blossom end (navel) represents the South Pole. Have the students label the stem end ¡°N¡± and the blossom end ¡°S¡±.
4. Have the students hold their oranges with the ¡°North Pole¡± up.
5. Have them draw a line around their oranges halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole. Ask them what this line represents. (the Equator).
6. Have them draw a line halfway between the North Pole and the Equator and another halfway between the South Pole and the Equator. Explain that these are the 45th parallels. Tell them that the 45th parallel north crosses through our state just north of New Meadows.
7. Have them draw lines halfway between the 45th parallels and the Equator. These lines represent the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and are the northern and southern borders of the Tropics.
8. Have them draw lines halfway between the 45th parallels and the North and South Poles. These lines represent the Arctic and Antarctic Circles and create the borders of the polar regions of the earth.
9. Ask the students what they notice about their lines on the oranges. (They are parallel and of equal distance apart.)
10. Explain to the students that these lines are called parallels and measure distance north and south of the Equator. These parallel lines are called latitude.
11. Ask the students what word rhymes with latitude and describes their feelings toward learning (both good and bad). ¡°ATTITUDE. If you have a bad attitude, what do you need to do? GET RID OF IT. Now peal your latitude with attitude off of your orange by pealing your orange.¡±
12. Once everyone has pealed their oranges, ask them if they notice any natural lines on their new ¡°globe¡±. They should answer the section lines of the orange. Explain that these lines run from the North Pole to the South Pole or from the South Pole to the North Pole and are farthest apart at the Equator. All of these lines intersect at the poles and are therefore not parallel. We call these lines meridians and they measure longitude or distance east and west of the Prime Meridian.
13. Have the students pick one of the section lines to be their Prime Meridian. Have them locate the meridian on the exact opposite side of their orange. This meridian would be the International Date Line and is 180¢ª East and West of the Prime Meridian.
14. Let the students eat their oranges.