Universe Cycle - Geography (3)

  • Exploring how to make a map.
  • Mapping the classroom.
  • legend
  • maps
  • physical
  • political
  • scale
  • topographic
  • stickers

Students make a classroom treasure map.


The study of maps and the meaning of the information they contain, is called geography. A person who studies or uses maps to collect data is called a geographer. A person who makes maps is a cartographer. Maps are important and valuable.

Making a map is very difficult. Many factors must be taken into account to make a map that works well. The map must show relevant information, but not in too much detail. It must be designed in colors and patterns that are harmonious and easy to read. The map must be accurate as well.

A map cannot be as big as the area it represents. It would be too large to look at. Therefore, a scale is used to relate map distance to real world distance; it shows how much smaller the map is than the real world. Scale is expressed as a mathematical ratio: for example 1 cm on the map could equal 5 footsteps or 10 meters in the real world. The person who creates the map determines the scale they want to use.

A legend is an explanation of symbols that are used to make the map easier to read. The legend is usually put in a corner of the map that does not interfere with reading the map. Legends usually contain symbols that helps locate objects. For instance, a square might be a house or a square with a bell on it might represent a school on a map.

In this exercise, the students will find out first hand how to construct a map that other people can read. This will take the form of a treasure hunt.

  1. Explain that to be useful, a map must be accurate and contain enough information to guide the person who uses it. Bad maps can cause major problems. Discuss with students scale and a legend.

This map doesn't give enough information. 

  1. Have the students work in pairs. Give each student a strip of paper. Have them decorate it, making a bookmark. This is the "treasure". You can substitute candy or stickers depending on what you have available.
  2. Have one student hide the "treasure" while the other student closes his or her eyes. Give the first student about 5 minutes to make a map of the classroom that shows the location of the treasure.

    Make sure the students create a legend on their map. A space is provided at the bottom of the map on the worksheet. The students may also want to put a scale on the map. The student who makes the map should determine the scale. Footsteps work well

  3. Have the second student take the map and try to find the treasure. They cannot ask their partner questions. Give the partner who is looking for the treasure about 5 minutes to find it.
  4. Have the partners switch roles.
  5. Have the students evaluate their maps. If both found their treasure, it means that they constructed good maps. You may want to let the students keep their treasure if they find it and put a "sticker" on the bookmark of their choice. If you used another "treasure" you may want them to keep it, only if both partners find the treasure.
  6. After they have completed the activity discuss how important it is to make good maps. Go over some of the "problems" that the students may have encountered. Some students may not have put in the tables or chairs, which would have helped the partner locate the treasure much easier.

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