Utah Lesson Plans
Social Studies
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Elementary
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  • Geography
  • Lesson Plan
  • Maps
  • UEN
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    Education Standards

    Maps and Me

    Maps and Me


    Students will complete several classroom activities to improve basic map skills.


    Students will complete several classroom activities to improve basic map skills.


    • One per class:

    • Me on the Map, by Joan Sweeney
    • Tub of different shaped blocks
    • 11" x 18" piece of construction paper
    • Markers
    • Treasure (any kind of treat)
    • 4 pieces of paper



    Additional Resources

    Me on the Map, by Joan Sweeney; ISBN 0-590-10705-4 My Map Book, by Sara Fanelli; ISBN 0060264551

    One per person:

    Model Magic 9" x 9" piece of construction paper Markers 

    One for each group:
    (4 groups)

    11" x 18" piece of construction paper Markers Different shaped blocks

    Background for Teachers

    Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney is an excellent introduction to illustrate how different maps represent a variety of locations. Maps can be of small areas like a room or show larger areas like the world. Maps are a bird's eye view of objects and show basic items. They use symbols to represent different things. A rectangle in a map of a room may represent a bed. A rectangle on a map of a town may represent a building. Maps usually do not show everything. Maps use the directions north, south, east and west. It's important when making a map or reading a map to know which direction is north. Maps give useful information.

    Intended Learning Outcomes

    1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
    2. Develop social skills and ethical responsibility.
    5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
    6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.

    Instructional Procedures

    Invitation to Learn
    Ask students the name of our country, state, and city. Ask, "If I wanted to go to our school, how would I know how to get there? If I wanted to get to our classroom, how would I know where it is? How would I know where your desk is?" Discuss the difference between an address and a map.

    Instructional Procedures
    This activity is broken up into five different sessions.

    Session One--Learning About Maps

    1. Read Me on the Map. Discuss how a map is a bird's eye view. Maps show basic features but not everything.
    2. Brainstorm together how you could make a map of the classroom. Use an 11" x 18" piece of construction paper and some blocks. Discuss what pieces of furniture would be important to place on a map. Place blocks on the paper to represent items in the room. Discuss why you would or would not put some things on the map (e.g., windows, people, small items, things on desks, etc.). After all the main items are represented, use a marker and trace around the blocks, then remove them.
    3. After all the blocks have been removed from the paper and only the outlines remain review what each shape is. Discuss how these are symbols of each item.
    4. Ask students how a person would know which direction to hold the map. Discuss north, south, east, and west. Decide which direction is north and mark it on the map.

    Session Two--Making Maps

    1. After having worked as a class and modeled how to design a map of the classroom, divide the class into groups of four to six students per group.
    2. Give each group an 11" x 18" piece of construction paper, some blocks, and markers.
    3. Have each group work together to map out the room with blocks.
    4. Brainstorm how to trace the shapes so that everyone has a turn. Discuss how to work together so that one person holds the blocks as another traces.
    5. When all the shapes are traced and blocks are removed, remind students that each map needs to show where north is so the readers will be able to orient themselves.

    Session Three--The Treasure Hunt
    Before this activity, do the first three items listed below while students are out of the classroom.

    1. Take each group's map (or copy a smaller version of a classroom map four times) and place a colored X in a different place on each map.
    2. On four small pieces of paper write one word of the sentence "Go to the _____ (somewhere in the room). These are the clues for the class to eventually find the treasure. Tape each paper to the corresponding location of the X placed on one of the maps.
    3. Place a prize in the location mentioned in the clue sentence with a note taped around it that says, "You found the treasure!"
    4. When the students are ready to go on with the activity, explain that they will be given a map with a colored X marked on it. As a group they are to quietly decide where the X is located, then go together to that spot and bring whatever they find to the front of the class. They may not go claim the prize until everyone has read the map.
    5. Give each group their map turned upside down. When each group has one, instruct them to turn it over and follow their map.
    6. After each group has come to the front, gather all the clues and maps. Show the whole class each map and have them tell where each clue was found.
    7. Hang up each clue one at a time. This is a good time to reinforce high frequency words and that sentences begin with a capital letter. When the entire clue is read, choose a student to go to that location and find the treasure.
    8. As students enjoy their treasure, review all the important elements of maps.

    Session Four--Me in My Room Triorama

    1. Reread Me on the Map. Discuss how we use simple shapes to show things on maps.
    2. Ask students what kinds of furniture they have in their bedrooms. Explain that each student is going to make a small model of themselves in their own bedroom. 
    3. Demonstrate how to make a triorama. Give each student a 9" x 9" piece of construction paper that has been folded in half to form a triangle and in half again form a quarter triangle. On one triangle next to the cut edge, place a big X. The other triangle that has been cut will be the floor. Have students use markers to draw the windows, pictures on the walls and shapes to represent dressers, their bed and other furniture pieces. Glue the triangle with the X under the adjacent triangle to form a pyramid.

    Session Five--Model of Me

    1. Using Model Magic, demonstrate to students how to sculpt a simple model of themselves sitting down. Roll a ball for the head, a larger oval for the body, two medium rolls for arms and two longer rolls for legs. Demonstrate different techniques for making hair and sculpting the face. Then squeeze each piece together.
    2. Have students make models.
    3. Color models with markers to represent something they are wearing or their favorite thing to wear.
    4. Place model in triorama.



    Additional Activities

    • Have students write in their journals where they found the treasure.
    • Put out blocks with cars in a center for small groups to design a town.
    • Environmental print could be added to a rug map in a center.
    • Provide Legos for student to design a house like the one they live in.
    • Make a graph for the number of rooms in students’ houses.

    Family Connections

    • Have students make a map of their home. If they live in a two story home, only draw one floor.
    • Have students look at a map of Utah with his/her parents. Locate where relatives live. 


    Assessment Plan

    • One of the most important observations made by the teacher during this activity should be how well students work together. Cooperative learning should be encouraged, modeled, pointed out, and celebrated. The teacher should give suggestions to groups or ask questions while the group is designing their map to assess whether students understand the elements of a map.



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