Utah Lesson Plans
Social Studies
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Lower Elementary
  • Lesson Plans
  • Maps
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    Fairy Tale Maps

    Fairy Tale Maps


    Students will begin to understand the concept of maps by describing the path that Little Red Riding Hood took on the way to Grandma's house.


    Students will begin to understand the concept of maps by describing the path that Little Red Riding Hood took on the way to Grandma's house.


    On the Way to Grandma's House

    The Jolly Postman

    • The Jolly Postman
    • Oh Where oh Where is The Postman? (Words)
    • North, East, South, West (Words)
    • Postman Silhouettepdf
    • Flashlight
    • Large poster board with up, down, left, and right written on one side (in the appropriate spots) and the cardinal directions on the other side. North on top, South on the bottom, West on the left, and East on the right. Cover the cardinal directions with word strips of up, down, left, and right.
    • Postman mapspdf
    • Postman cutoutspdf

    Additional Resources


    • The Jolly Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg; ISBN -10: 0-316-01776-0
    • The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg; ISBN:0-590-47150-3
    • Mapping Penny's World, by Loreen Leedy; ISBN 0-8050-7262-4


    • Mailbox: Kindergarten June/July 2003-4 vol. 14, number 3. The Education Center, Inc.

    Background for Teachers

    Many fairy tales and nursery rhymes take the characters on a path through the rhyme/story. In this lesson, we will be making up maps for the characters to follow. In the first activity, the class will be recreating a map of the path that Little Red Riding Hood takes to Grandma's house. The students will be exploring basic map directions and characteristics. Directional words such as left, right, top, bottom, land, and water will be the focus. Prior to teaching this lesson, students need to have a basic understanding of left, right, up, and down. Students will then have the opportunity to learn more about the cardinal directions of North, South, East, and West in the second activity. On maps, the cardinal directions are usually found on the compass rose, which is a graduated circle that indicates the directions. Many times the compass rose is marked in degrees and indicates N, NW, W, SW, S, SE, E, and NE. However, these activities focus only on North, South, East, and West. Each activity is designed to take several days.

    Intended Learning Outcomes

    5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
    6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form

    Instructional Procedures

    Invitation to Learn

    On the Way to Grandma's House

    Talk with the students about how they are not always at home. Where are some of the other places that they go? Make a list of their responses. Some ideas are: school, out to eat, to see a movie, shopping, church, Grandma's house, to a friend's house, etc.

    Instructional Procedures

    1. Read or tell the students the story of Little Red Riding Hood as found at the end of this activity.
    2. After reading the story pass out the large Red Riding Hood cutouts (all colored and prepared) to some of the students so that they can participate in retelling the story. You can back the pieces with flannel and use a flannel board or laminate the pieces and tape them onto whatever board you use to retell the story. Have the arrows ready to use.
    3. Tell the students that as they help retell the story, they will be making the "map" that shows the path that Little Red Riding Hood took on the way to Grandma's house. Explain to the students that the cutouts represent real things. It would not work to bring real trees into the classroom to show the forest. So we are using symbols. Maps are symbols of real things and places. They are smaller than the real thing/places.
    4. As you and the students retell the story, have the students come up and place the cutouts in the appropriate spot. Each time Little Red Riding Hood changes directions use an appropriate directional arrow to indicate the change. Talk about how Little Red Riding Hood is now going left, right, up, or down. Each time she changes direction, have the students point out on the map the direction she is going.
    5. When you are finished retelling the story as a class, give each student a copy of the small Little Red Riding Hood cutouts and arrows. Make sure they understand that for the arrows to be going the correct way, the writing has to be going the correct direction. Give each student a copy of the small cutouts, the small arrows, and a piece of paper on which to make the map. Have the students recreate their own map of Little Red Riding Hood's path. They do not need to follow the story and can have her change direction as much as they would like.
    6. Reinforce the idea that the students have just made a map and that the map represents the real path that Little Red Riding Hood took on her way to Grandma's house.

    The Jolly Postman

    Ask students why we need maps. Who needs to use a map? Some answers could include: a bus driver, Mom and Dad when driving to a new place, a delivery driver, EMT, etc. What would happen if they did not know how to use a map and they were trying to find a place that they had not gone to before? When we read Little Red Riding Hood, we made a map of the path that she took through the forest to Grandma's house. We are now going to be reading a story about a postman and all the letters that he has to deliver. Then we are going to make a map for him to follow.

    1. Read the Jolly Postman. Ask the students to pay careful attention to which character gets a letter first, second, and so on.
    2. On a real map show students the cardinal directions on the compass rose. The compass rose is a symbol to help us know which direction we are going on a map. Remind the students that on the maps they made for Little Red Riding Hood, they used directional words such as left, right, up, and down. Now they are going to make a map for the postman and put North, South, East, and West on the map.
    3. Teach students the words to the song Oh Where oh Where is the Postman? It is sung to the tune of Oh Where oh Where Can My Little Dog Be? Then, use the flashlight with the postman silhouette taped on the end and the poster board side with up, down, left, and right. Sing the first version of the song several times. Then use the side with the cardinal directions on it. One by one uncover them as you discuss how the cardinal direction word relates to the directional word. Then shine the postman on each cardinal direction as it is sung in the song. Let students have turns shining the postman on the appropriate cardinal direction.
      Oh Where Oh Where is the Postman?
      (Adapted from Mailbox magazine)
      Oh where, oh where is the postman?
      Oh where, oh where can he be?
      Is he up or down?
      Or right, or left?
      Oh where, oh where can he be?

      Oh Where Oh Where is the Postman?
      (Adapted from Mailbox magazine)
      Oh where, oh where is the postman?
      Oh where, oh where can she be?
      Is she up or down?
      Or right, or left?
      Oh where, oh where can she be?

    4. You can also teach students the song North, East, South, West sung to the tune of Are You Sleeping? Again, use the flashlight to point to the coordinating cardinal direction word so students can begin to recognize the words.


      North, East, South, West
      (from Mailbox magazine)
      North, East, South, West
      North, East, South, West
      Tell which way
      Tell which way
      Directions on globes and maps
      Point the way in a snap
      Point the way
      Point the way
    5. Read the Jolly Postman again. Before the postman goes to a new house, see if the students can remember the order that the characters receive their mail.
    6. Give each student a copy of the postman map. They will need to color it and fill in the cardinal directions. Have students tell each other the story using the postman and the postman map. They can then take the map home and retell the story to their families.



    • For the Jolly Postman, have students choose a fairy tale character and have them write a letter to the character. They can add the new character on to their Jolly Postman Map. Act out the story of the Jolly Postman with students playing the parts of all the character in the book. Have the postman check his map each time he goes to a new house.
    • Before reading the Jolly Postman, read all the fairy tales that have characters in the story so that students are familiar with the different characters.
    • To help students learn the directional words on the arrows in the Little Red Riding Hood activity, have each arrow be a different color, e.g. all the left arrows are blue, all the right arrows are red, etc.

    Family Connections

    • Have students write a letter to their families or to themselves. Send it in the mail so that they can get it in the mail.
    • Encourage students to retell both stories to their families.

    Assessment Plan

    • Check students' Little Red Riding Hood maps for the correct direction of arrows and the clarity of the path that they make for Little Red Riding Hood.
    • Observe the students as they shine the postman flashlight on the cardinal directions. Are they paying attention and trying to shine the light on the correct word?
    • Observe and check for developmentally appropriate work.


    Research Basis


    National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2003). Navigating through problem solving and reasoning in pre-kindergarten--kindergarten. NCTM. Reston, VA. 3.

    Graphic representation is when we use symbols, words, illustrations, graphs, and/or charts to help students understand mathematical concepts. Students and teachers can create, interpret, and combine information in order to better understand the concept being taught. When students are able to use drawings and/or manipulatives, they can begin to understand that using representation (symbols) can help them solve many mathematical problems. Representation helps to strengthen students' problem solving abilities.


    Frazee, B. & Guardia, W. (1994). Helping your child with maps and globes. Glenview, IL. GoodYearBooks, Scott Foresman, 7.

    Maps and globes are symbols of real things. The symbols on maps, such as the legend/key or the cardinal directions are representations of real things. Young children need to have many concrete experiences to help them understand the concept that symbols are representative of real things and places. It is helpful for students to have some of their early experiences with symbols based on symbols that are representative of things in their everyday life. Children should be given the opportunity to create symbols of their own for things in their immediate surroundings.


    Hartshorn, R. & Boren, S. (1990). Experiential learning of mathematics: using manipulatives. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. 11/28/2006. From

    When students are actively involved in their education their learning is enhanced. The use of manipulatives allows students to touch and move objects to introduce or reinforce a concept. The idea of this type of hands-on learning is especially helpful when presenting abstract ideas. This is not a new idea. In the early part of the 20th century, Maria Montessori supported the type of active learning that manipulatives can give to students. Since 1940, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has supported the use of manipulatives.