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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Giant Traveling Map

Talk about seeing the world up close! This past week our school had the opportunity to get their hands AND their feet on the Giant National Geographic Map.  Quickly taking off their shoes, my students rushed over to explore the mammoth "Map of North America".  Squeals of delight could be heard as the students found various states and features.  On the day of our first visit we just so happened to have skyped @weswils5 's class in Alberta, Canada.  It was so fun to watch the students crowd around the province on the map! A stronger, 'bigger' connection was certainly made.

I had no idea such a thing exsisted! The map which measures 26' by 35' was brought to my attention by a parent last year. It was rented for two weeks through the generous donation from our Parent Advisory Council. All the classes in our school were able to visit the map at least twice during the two week rental period.

The first time we visited the map we played a "Simon Says" type game to familiarize ourselves with the map. "Simon Says find a state that begins with an M" or "Simon says put your left foot in the Atlantic Ocean". These type of statements had the students visiting different areas of the map.  The next activity was based around using the "Cardinal Directions". Using the compass rose, we found locations on the map while stepping North, South, East and West.  Student gained a better understanding and appreciation of directions after this activity. It's wasn't as easy as one would think.  Another activity involved finding particular states. Each child was given a card with a state name & had to find that state as quickly as possible. It sure was a lot of fun exploring the states in such a manner.

Every day the students asked if we were going to visit the 'giant' map.  They not only loved the size of it, but they loved exploring the different features.  Each time, someone learned something new! It makes me think that we need to be incorporating more activities like this in our classrooms.


National Geographic Traveling Map: 6 Different Giant Floor Maps for Students to Explore

National Geographic: Exploring Maps and Models of the Earth

Teaching with Maps: NEA site that has students learning about Longitude & Latitude; Reading a topographic map & more

Google Earth Lessons & Ideas

Map Skills and Higher Order Thinking

Maps are fascinating on many different levels. Some folks may argue that 'reading a map' is not longer relevant due to technological advances and GPS systems.  Others say that reading maps lead to 'global learning'.  Witnessing the allure and attraction of these enormous maps makes me realize that students LOVE learning about places using visuals. If you get the chance - you should rent one!

In what ways do you incorporate MAPS in your teaching? How are maps applicable to our everyday life?


  1. Nancy what a wonderful experience for you and your students. How lucky your students are to have had this as a learning tool.

    1. Hi,
      It really was quite amazing. I heard from all the teachers that their students LOVED it! There was something on that map for everyone!

  2. Learning the Cardinal Directions (the Compass) is something everyone should learn and it will help in their everyday life. Especially travelling across the country in a car, plane, train or bus.

    Great teaching Nancy


    1. Thanks Dad - We take for granted how we use those Cardinal Directions daily!! Next on the agenda is teaching the kids how to USE a compass. That ought to be interesting!

      Love you Dad.

  3. How much fun it that! I wouldn't mind talking my shoes off and visiting a few places myself!

    1. Cal,
      That's EXACTLY what the kids were doing! "I'm here in Florida!" "I'm in Alaska!" It was great to see how excited they were about being in different places in North America!

  4. Way cool! I happen to agree that knowing how to read a map is an important skill to learn, as well as studying geography. It helps broaden ones understanding of the world we live in.

    1. Alaskagirl,
      We followed up with a science lesson about "Why does North always point up on a Map". It was a great eye opener for the kids. The lesson begins by asking them to visualize a map of their room, then a map of their house in the neighborhood, then a map of their state, then a map of the US then a map of the world! It certainly gets one to realize how big the world is in comparison to where we live!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  5. Your blog has a wealth of information. Thank you for creating such an inspiring way to teach students about map reading. Maybe if I would have had you as a teacher I wouldn't be such a directionally challenged adult.thankyou,lorrie


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