Understanding Maps

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Understanding Maps

Relate the three-dimensional world in which we live to the two-dimensional world of maps by taking a plane ride over a neighborhood and translating the view onto a flat map. Demonstrates points on a compass, how different types of maps show different things, what symbols and scales are, and what a globe is.

Discover the most important thing to using a map to get from one location to another.

  1. Students will understand that a map is a flat drawing that shows what an area looks like from above. Maps can show the features of land areas or even the plan for the inside of a building.
  2. Students will realize that people use maps to help them find the quickest route from point A to point B.
  3. Students will observe that all maps show the directions, which aid in navigation, on a compass rose. When a map is situated in the correct position, north is upward, south is downward, east is to the right, and west is to the left.
  4. Students will notice that maps present their information using symbols. For example, a blue area on a map could represent a lake or a gray line could represent a freeway. Each map has a key that describes the meaning of every symbol.
  5. Students will recognize that maps have a scale, which relates the size of the features on the map to their actual size. Using a scale, one can figure out the distance from one point to another.
  6. Students will know that maps are either small-scale or large-scale. A small-scale map has very little detail, but represents a large area. A large-scale map contains a lot of detail, but only covers a small area.
  7. Students will know about the commonly used types of maps and how they can be employed to provide people with information.
    1. A grid map is a very helpful tool in which a city, or any other area, is divided into a series of boxes called grids. Using a grid map, one can find a specific street by simply looking up the street in the map's index and finding the box in which the street is located.
    2. A globe is a true, three-dimensional model of the earth. Globes allow people to observe the way the earth actually looks. Globes show important characteristics of the earth, like the north and south poles and the equator, which divides the earth into a Northern Hemisphere and a Southern Hemisphere.
    3. A relief map has raised areas on it that convey to people the elevation of the earth's landforms.
  8. Students will understand that a compass is an important tool for finding direction. A compass enables a person to follow the directions on a map or to find the way to a specific place without a map.

  1. Before viewing the video

    1. Pretend there is a new member in the class. Select a student to tell him/her how to get to the office, using words first and then drawing a map on the board. Let the "new" student follow these directions and see where he/she ends up.
  2. After viewing the video

    1. A Classroom Map: Make an outline drawing of the classroom, showing the windows and doors. Give a copy to each student. After discussing the house plan shown on the video, talk about all the things found in the classroom, such as the chalkboard, the teacher's desk, the students' desks, the pencil sharpener, the waste basket, etc. Have the students then independently make their own map of the classroom, putting a special mark on their desks. Take home to share with the family.
    2. Drawing to Scale: Outline one of the students on a large sheet of butcher paper. Using a yardstick, measure how many inches tall the figure is. Write the inches on the board. Tell the students that the class is going to make a scale of 1/2 inch to equal 1 inch. Have the class recount the number of inches of the student's height. Make a strip of paper that is 1/2 inch wide. Starting at the bottom of the student's figure, mark that number of inches with the same number of scale 1/2 inches. Write that number on the board. Younger children will need an adult to do the marking. The mark that is made to scale will be one-half as tall as the original drawing. Map scales, of course, usually have a much greater difference between the actual distance and the distance on the scale.
    3. Map Symbols: Draw the following simple symbols on the board: a sun (a universal symbol), a railroad track (a straight line with small crossbars), a tree (a state park), an airplane (an airport). See if the students can identify them. Roadmaps have these symbols and many more to tell people where these things are located.
    4. Applying Maps: Make copies of the fire escape route plan for the classroom (if the school does not provide a plan, then the map needs to be made). Distribute the maps and explain it to the students. Once they understand, have a fire drill in which the students follow the map to safety.