Mapping Skills in the Classroom for Primary Students
Posted on January 01 2023
Maps are an effective tool for identifying the location of events happening today or in the past. They ground students and allow them to visualize context. As students build on their knowledge, they come back to a place over and over with new information. Thus, mapping skills are essential. Fortunately, these skills can begin at a young age. At Maps101, we have a variety of content designed to help students develop mapping skills. We will take an overview tour of what maps are and look more closely at map keys and common symbols on maps. We will also discuss hemispheres, so students have an understanding of how Earth is conceptually divided. We follow with an interactive lesson on latitude and longitude. Finally, we point you in the direction of our beginner maps, so you can start using them in your classroom.
The place to start when focusing on mapping skills is explaining the basic concept of a map and the fundamentals students need to know in order to work with maps. Topics include places, up and down, across, direction on a map, lines on a map, types of maps, electronic maps, and more.
Use this activity to highlight map keys. The key is extremely important—as the name implies. It unlocks what the information on a map represents. Some simple maps don’t bother to include a key. Complex maps, however, may have a lot of information in the key. Note that sometimes map keys are called legends.
Practice helps students retain what they have learned. Assign this worksheet in class or as homework for students to match a symbol with its meaning. Review the symbol with the students to ensure they understand the symbols and what the purpose of a map key is. Encourage students to create their own symbols for a map of the classroom.
Right now, the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing winter. Students may not realize that summer is happening in the Southern Hemisphere. This article introduces younger students to the ways Earth is divided into hemispheres. They will also discover what a bias is through addressing the bias toward the Northern Hemisphere that results from it being where the majority of people live, and also where world mapping had its early development.
Project this map of the world’s hemispheres to help students identify which continents are in which of the four hemispheres. Ensure that students understand cardinal directions, so they can add to their knowledge when being introduced to Earth’s hemispheres. Some students may benefit from demonstrating the concept with a globe or even a ball—pointing out that a ball is a sphere andhemi-means “half.”
Students may have trouble understanding what lines of latitude and longitude are and how they work to identify a location. This interactive Lesson Map is designed for elementary-age learners to first discover what these lines on a map or globe are for. They will be able to read text designed for them and see images and graphics to illustrate the ideas that are presented. The full teacher edition gives you numerous activities with which to engage your students and ensure that all learning levels understand the lesson.
Access our elementary-age map collection by going to Collections on the toolbar and choosing Maps. From there, use the filter for grade groups and choose lower elementary. This is where you will find simple maps for the lowest-age learners, like a map of a bedroom, neighborhood, and farm. And you will find the lowest-level maps of each state and Canadian province, every continent, regions, and a map of the universe with all the planets in our solar system. You will turn to these maps over and over for your youngest leaners.
Thank you for taking this tour of content about maps that is available on Maps101. We hope our weekly tour of topics in this GeoJournal helps not just inform you of themes you can focus on throughout the year, but that it also draws your attention to content you may not have realized is available. Happy hunting for more content that benefits your class this school year. And don’t forget to favorite to save what you use often for easy access.
High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, Maps.com offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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