Lesson 2: Maps of All Kinds


Activity 1: Keys Unlock the Secrets of Maps

Materials: The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World by Caroline Arnold, colored pencils or markers
Your reading in Geography of the World explained the meanings of the symbols used on the maps in that book. The part of a map that tells you what the symbols, colors, or patterns on the map represent is called the key or the legend. In this activity, you'll create your own map of a place you know well, use symbols to identify important features, and create a key to help people who read your map know what those symbols mean.
Read pages 27-28 in The Geography Book. Follow the directions on the "The Key to Your Neighborhood" activity sheet to create a map of your neighborhood, create symbols for features on the map, and fill in the key. The example in The Geography Book may give you some ideas for the kinds of symbols you could use in your key, but feel free to be creative and make your own, too. Share your finished map and key with a parent and see if he or she can easily understand the symbols that you chose.

To help make your map more accurate, refer to a printed map that shows your street and the surrounding area. You can use a local road map, or, with a parent's help, you can visit Google Maps or MapQuest and enter your street name, city, state, and zip code to see a map of the streets in your immediate area.

Since you were the cartographer (mapmaker) for this neighborhood map, you probably used symbols for things that are important to you or for places that you visit often. How might a map of the same place be different if it had been created by someone else? For example, a truck driver for a delivery service might want the map to have a special symbol for the houses on his route, or the family dog might want the map to feature a special symbol to show the locations of all of the other dogs in the neighborhood. Using a different-colored pencil, you could add more symbols to your map with other people's (or other creatures'!) interests in mind.
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Student Activity Page
In this activity, your child will create a map of his neighborhood and create a legend or key to help readers understand the symbols used on the map. Your child may need assistance using a printed road map that shows your street or using Google Maps, MapQuest, or another online mapping website to see a rough map of your vicinity that he can use as the basis for his own, more detailed map. Your child should use at least four symbols on the map. Discuss the map with your child and ask about why he chose to include certain features or why he used the symbols that he created to represent various features.

Activity 2: Different Maps for Different Needs

Cartographers create different kinds of maps to meet different needs. Some maps provide a visual representation of different kinds of terrain, such as mountains or deserts, using colors, contour lines, or graphics. Others show roads, train tracks, and subway routes. Maps can show weather patterns, property ownership, or political boundaries. They can provide information about natural resources, animal habitats, or economic trade.
For this activity, you'll examine five different maps of a small, imaginary island. Think of a name for this island and write that name at the top of each map on the "Different Maps for Different Needs" sheet. Then ask your parent which of the "Using Your Five Maps" pages you should use (Option 1 or 2) and follow the directions on that page.
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
In this activity, your child will explore five different maps of an imaginary island to determine how someone might use each of the different types of maps. There are two versions of the "Using Your Five Maps" page. Option 1 asks the student to determine which map would best meet the needs of ten different people. Option 2 requires the student to imagine and write about two different uses for each kind of map. The second option requires greater creative problem solving and more writing than the first. Choose the option that you think will be the best fit for your own child.

Answers for "Using Your Five Maps," Option 1:

1. Map 2
2. Map 5
3. Map 1
4. Map 4
5. Map 3
6. Map 5
7. Map 4
8. Map 1
9. Map 3
10. Map 2

Activity 3: Panoramic Photograph or Sketch (Optional)

Materials: The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World by Caroline Arnold, Camera
If you have time, the following activity is a really fun way to demonstrate panoramic photographs.

Read pages 25-26 in The Geography Book. Follow the directions for creating a panoramic photo, with this modification: take a panoramic photo of the neighborhood you drew in Activity 2. Find a place where you can see a significant part of the neighborhood - it doesn't necessarily have to be a tall building like the one used in the example in The Geography Book - and take pictures while turning around in a circle. Try to make sure that there is some overlap between one picture and the next.

This activity is even easier with a digital camera since you won't need to wait for film processing - you can just print out your pictures at home - or, if you're skilled with photo-editing software, you may even be able to create a panoramic photo from individual images on your computer.
After you have had your pictures developed or printed, tape your resulting photos together to make one panoramic photograph. Use the "Photo vs. Map" activity page to compare your panoramic photo to your map of the same place.
Student Activity Page
For Activity 3, your child will be creating a panoramic photo of the same space that he mapped in Activity 2. He may need your help with the camera or with finding an effective (and safe!) place to stand while taking the photos. He may also need assistance in having prints made, either through a photo developer or, if you're using a digital camera and home computer, by printing them out at home.

Optional Extensions

The following links provide some fun and informative extensions to this activity on maps and panoramic photos.
Your child may need assistance navigating through some of the websites listed for this extension.
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