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A Map Skills Lesson Plan: Map the Classroom

By Keren Perles

Map skills lesson plans tend to be dry and boring – which is completely inexcusable! Mapmakers have the fascinating job of exploring the world around us. This lesson plan on map skills gives students the chance to make their own maps, creating map scales and legends n the process.

In this lesson plan on map skills, students will learn how to read simple maps, how to use and create a legend, and how to create a map scale that is proportionally correct. They will learn invaluable map skills that will help them navigate their way in life!

Introduction to Scales and Legends

Discuss a sample map with students. Show them the key (legend), and ask them to identify different objects on the map by using the key. Focus on the scale and on what it means to draw or create a map “to scale.” Have students use a ruler and the map’s scale to identify the distance between several objects on the sample map.

Getting Started

Explain to students that they will now be creating their own maps – of the classroom. Break students into groups of three to work on their maps, and provide them with large pieces of posterboard. Encourage students to sketch lightly with a pencil at first so that they can erase markings easily. Give each group at least one measuring device, such as a tape measure or a ruler.

First, have students measure the length and width of the room. Help students determine how large their map should be based on these dimensions, and which proportions they should use for creating their map’s scale. Make sure that each students understands why those proportions were chosen, and write the proportions on the board for easy reference.

Creating the Legend

In their small groups, have students brainstorm ideas for symbols of objects in the classrooms, such as student desks, teacher desk, windows, or bulletin boards. Have students create a legend based on these symbols on a small piece of paper. Remind students that this will be the legend of the map.

Creating the Map

Have students measure the objects in the room, as well as the distance between the various objects. Assist them in their small groups as they use these measurements to create a map to scale. Remind them to use the symbols from their legend in their map. When the map is complete, help students find a place to attach their legend.

Wrap Up

If some groups finish this map skills lesson plan before others, encourage them to decorate their map as desired. When all of the groups have completed their maps, encourage them to present their creations to the class. As a class, discuss the difficulties they had in creating their maps and what they could do differently next time.