Lesson 2: Maps of All Kinds

Getting Started

A map can be a terrific tool for learning more about the physical environment, but only if it's the right kind of map for your needs. Just as you couldn't effectively use a wrench to try to drive in a nail, you can't use a political map to understand mountain elevations or a contour map to figure out population density. A map is a tool, but, like most tools, each map is designed to meet specific needs.

Stuff You Need

  • Geography of the World by DK Publishing
  • The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World by Caroline Arnold
  • Camera
  • colored pencils or markers

Ideas to Think About

  • How can the physical environment be represented visually?
  • How might it be useful to have different ways of representing the physical environment?

Things to Know

  • Maps can represent the physical world in a variety of ways.
  • The key or legend of a map explains what the symbols, colors, and patterns on the map represent.
  • Maps contain specific kinds of information; when you need to know a particular kind of information, it is important that you consult the right kind of map!


  • Identify and use models and maps as ways of representing landforms. (SS)

Introducing the Lesson

In the last lesson, your child created globes and used an orange to figure out how to represent a round object on a flat surface. Explain to your child that in this lesson, he will be exploring more kinds of maps and their different uses. Ask what kinds of maps your family has used before. You may even ask your child to go on a map scavenger hunt and find a few examples of maps around the house (road maps, maps inside the telephone book, maps in an atlas or encyclopedia, maps in a history text, etc.).

Reading and Questions

Materials: Geography of the World by DK Publishing
Reading and Questions
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