Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Map Adventures Lessons

These lessons, Map Adventures, come from the US Geological Survey, and they are actually for younger children. I find that they work very well for 4th grade, too, especially for the beginning of the school year. There are some for older students, also, but I did not like them for 4th grade as well as these.

How I Teach It:
Within the first few days of school, one of my first social studies lessons is a lesson that combines  Lesson 1 & Lesson 2. After that combination lesson, I ask the students to imagine riding in a hot air balloon above any place they would most like to be - real or imaginary. I ask them to write one page about the ride, what they see, etc., and encourage them to be as creative as possible. I give all of them a copy of the hot air balloon coloring page (from lesson 1), and let them color those as they finish their stories. They attach the hot air balloon to the top of their page, and I hang these in the hall :). These stories also serve as their beginning of the year writing samples.

I combine lessons 3-5 the next day. The content is still relevant to 4th grade, but the 4th graders can handle more of those lessons in one sitting than younger kids.

The third day, I combine lessons 6-7. I tell the kids that when I was little, I used to ride with my dad for residential real estate appraisals sometimes. Sometimes he would be asked to do some appraisals in a city that is nearby, but that wasn't super familiar to him. Before GPS, there were real maps - this shocks some students LoL. Since he was driving, I would have to read the map for him! I tell the kids how big the map was (I keep planning to bring one of those maps, but I still haven't!). It was so big that if we opened it outside of the car, we could cover the whole front of the car. Since we couldn't open the whole map in the car and since it would be too difficult to search the whole map for what we needed, I was grateful for the index. I could look up any street on the index part of the map, and it would tell me a certain grid section where I could find it. Somehow this story makes the grid thing more meaningful for the kids. Go figure.

I have actually printed off all 15 of the map sections from Lesson 6 to make the big floor map to use during the lesson. The kids like it even if for no other reason than it is different than our normal school lessons! I actually made it into a center, too, and add it to the basket of geography centers that the students complete later in my map unit. My students fought over who got to do that center last year!

The Map Grid Center
I SO wish I had a picture of this to put here! I put all 15 of the map sections and a penny into a manila envelope and paste the following directions on the outside, "Put all of these pieces back together to make a really big map! After you have put the puzzle together, gently toss the penny onto the map ten times. Write what the penny landed on and in what section it landed even if it just lands on a path or in the grass." I found that it takes a while for students to complete this activity, and a lot of students tend to be interested in it, so I let as many as five students work together for this activity.


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