What’s In A Map?

One of the social studies topics we cover in second grade are types of maps and how we use them. Obviously this is a perfect opportunity to share with students maps I have picked up over the years during my travels. I have to admit that everywhere I have been I have collected maps, brochures and other literature just waiting for the right opportunity to use them one day. That day has finally arrived!

Map of the Finnish Archipelago


By using real maps of places around the world, it will be an authentic way of showing students different styles of maps to students. I can then segue into the purpose for these maps thinking about why people might use these them. It is important for students to understand that not all maps are made for the same purpose. A great way to demonstrate this is to share a variety of maps, ones of cities, subways, countries, museums, estates, even islands. Each has an intended purpose that we can uncover.

My favorite map I used this summer.

Displaying a variety of maps will help to generate a rich dialogue and get students thinking of when they might need to use a map. We will be able to examine the different maps to find similarities and differences, features that make the maps easy to use, and features they might change.

Google Maps in Salzburg, Austria
Map of Santorini, Greece
What would be a plane ride without a picture of the map












After picking apart all the maps and identifying the key features that are needed to make a map a map, students will then have the chance to make their own maps.

We have already begun talking about the basic of maps, but I can’t wait to dive in deeper with a global look. These lessons will merge social studies curriculum with global learning and technology, 21st century skills students need to develop. What makes this easier to teach, is the personal experience of traveling to these places and actually using the maps I will share. The power of travel cannot be underestimated.





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1 Comment

  1. I too love maps! It is the first thing I do when I go ANYWHERE!
    From the outlets in Wrentham,(so I know where to go to get to the stores that I want to shop) to small towns like Ogunquit Maine, to big cities like Boston or Munich or Helsinki; a map is your friend! It can save you time and help you figure out how to maximize your time.
    I like maps because you get a birds eye view of a place so you can visualize where places are and how to get to them.
    It is always exciting tome to go to a new city and take a look at a map of that city. The possibilities are endless…where to go next?