Lesson 2: What Is a Map?

Getting Started

Questions to Explore

  • What makes an environment safe and healthy?
  • What do homes provide for the people who live in them?

Facts and Definitions

  • A map is a picture that shows where places in the environment are located and how to find them.


  • Locate and describe familiar places in the home and other environments (such as bodies of water and landforms) (SS)
  • Create and interpret simple maps and drawings of the home and other environments (SS)
  • Model and use directional and positional vocabulary (M)
  • Complete simple spatial visualization tasks and puzzles (M)
  • Write and sound out letters (LA)


  • Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney
  • a variety of maps
  • blank paper
  • colored pencils or markers* (Activity 3 - Option 2)
  • glue* (Activity 3 - Option 1)
  • scissors* (Activity 3 - Option 1)
  • U.S. and world maps* (Activity 1 - optional)

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed


Materials: a variety of maps
Ask your child if he has ever seen a map and if he knows why we look at maps and how we use them. Show your child a few examples of maps in books, atlases, travel brochures, or online. Point out important landforms, streets, and bodies of water on the maps. Explain to your child that a map is a type of picture that shows the important places or objects in an environment and that a map is drawn as if we are looking down on a place. Explain that maps are small drawings of real places in the world.