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A Teacher's Guide

Maps and Mapping


Begin your study of Maps and Mapping by Deborah Chancellor with a discussion about what your students know about maps. Questions can include:
    • What is a map?
    • How is a map different from a globe?
    • What are some things you can place on a map? (compile a list)
    • When do your parents use a map?
As the children give their answers, start creating a KWL chart to keep track of the many things they know and would like to know about maps and mapping. As the class reads the book, refer back to the KWL chart and add new things they learn.

Sample KWL Chart:

What we know about maps What we would like to learn about maps What we learned about maps
Maps are pictures of the ground.

Why are there horizontal and vertical lines on a map?

Latitude and longitude lines help us locate places on a map.

    Language Arts:
    • Generates questions about topics of interest
    • Uses a variety of sources to gather information
    • Makes contributions in class and group discussions
    • Relates new information to prior knowledge and experience

Highlighted vocabulary words are found at the bottom of the pages in the book. Additional words from the text that you should focus on are:

scale (page 12)
symbols (page 16)
compass (page 22)
sextant (page 23)
surveyors (page 24)
slope (page 24)
data (page 29)
seabed (page 39)
binoculars (page 40)
craters (page 41)

Our suggestions on how to use these words effectively are found on page 2 of the guide.

    Language Arts/Reading:
    • Uses word reference materials to determine the meaning and pronunciation of unknown words
    • Uses a variety of context clues to decode unknown words

In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson enlisted Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore, map, and survey the Louisiana Purchase, territory acquired from France in 1803. This vast wilderness is now the northwestern United States. Your students can become mapping explorers. Have them imagine they are living in the future. Space exploration is as common as traveling from New York to California. The year is 2404 and a new planet with breathable air has been discovered in a distant solar system. Your students' job is to explore, map, and survey this new planet, just like Lewis and Clark did in America 600 years earlier.

As part of their record keeping of the expedition, the children should draw pictures of what they see, create maps of the terrain, note interesting landmarks and natural formations on the map, and record and illustrate evidence of living things. Since your students will be the first humans to encounter new species of plants and animals on the planet, they should name these new forms of life. Have them write their observations in a day-by-day journal of their expedition. When they return to earth, their findings should be presented to the entire class.

    Language Arts/Writing:
    • Writes in a variety of forms or genres
    • Writes and creates visual art in response to literature

    Language Arts/Communication Skills:
    • Organizes ideas for oral presentations
    • Makes basic oral presentations to class

Discuss with your children the idea that the United States is made up of people who have come here from many countries all around the world. Talk about what countries their families came from and why they immigrated to United States. Place a large world map in the back of the classroom. Have the children place pushpins on the map to designate the country and city they or their relatives are from. Then using the map's scale, have them calculate the distances they or their relatives had to travel to get to United States. Display the results in a chart.

Sample Chart:
Our Homelands
Child's Name City and country of origin Distance traveled Why they came here

    • Understands the characteristics and uses of maps
    • Knows the location of places and geographic features
    • Understands the concept of regions
    • Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of place and region

Plan a car trip from your school to the museum nearest the school.

Materials needed:
• street map of your town for each group
• yellow highlighter
• ruler

Divide the class into groups of trip planners. Mark the location of your school and the museum on each group's map. Talk about the expression "as the crow flies." Then, using the scale of the map and a ruler, measure the direct distance from the school to the museum. Explain to the students that they are to find the shortest route to the museum. Discuss whether their routes will be shorter, longer, or the same as the crow flies. Then have each group map the route they would take to get to the museum. The students should make a list of the streets they will travel on and whether they have to make a right or a left turn to get onto the street. They should trace their final route with the yellow highlighter.

Using the map's scale and a ruler, the students will measure how far they traveled on each street and add those distances together to determine the total distance to the museum. You can use the following sample with the children:

For a scale of 1 inch equals 2 miles:
• If they travel on Main Street for 2 inches, then 2 inches times 2 miles equals 4 miles traveled (2 X 2 = 4)
• If they then go ½ inch on Elm Street, then ½ inch times 2 miles equals 1 mile (½ X 2 = 1).
• The total distance would be 5 miles traveled to the museum (4 miles + 1 mile).
When the children present their results, make sure they label all of their numerals with the proper units.

If some students are unable to calculate the mileage, have them record the amount of inches measured. The route with the fewest total inches is the shortest route.

    • Makes organized lists or tables of information necessary for solving problems
    • Uses discussion with teachers and other students to understand problems
    • Understands the properties of and the relationships among addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
    • Solves real-world problems

    • Knows the location of school, home, neighborhood, and community

    Cooperative Learning:
    • Works with others to produce a common goal

Connect Maps and Mapping with your literature program. Read aloud a book from your class library that involves a journey. An example would be your favorite version of The Three Little Pigs. Have your students first illustrate the story, then make maps of the countryside. They should include where the pigs and the wolf live, any houses or buildings that dot the landscape, the roads that lead from house to house, and the path the wolf takes as he goes from one pig's house to another.

    Language Arts/Writing:
    • Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
    • Writes and creates visual art in response to literature

    Visual Arts:
    • Uses visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas
    • Knows the different kinds of media, techniques, and processes that are used to create works of art

There are a number of books to use with your class where maps are an integral part of the story. One such book is Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling, published by Houghton Mifflin. Other books include: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, published by Houghton Mifflin, and Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting, published by Clarion Books for Children.

This guide was created by Clifford Wohl, Educational Consultant

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