Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Mapping My Way Around

Michaél Dunnivant


Students use maps to determine where places are around school and how to get there.


The student determines the absolute and relative location of people, places, and things.

The student uses simple maps, globes, and other three-dimensional models to identify and locate places.


-Simple map of school with print large enough for young readers to interpret
-Overhead copy of the map
-Unit or centimeter blocks
-Sweeney, Joan. Me on the Map. New York: Crown Publishing, 1996, or any other appropriate book about maps
-Materials for 3D models (paper, sticks, clay, and other objects)


1. Prepare a map of the school that is readable for young readers.
2. Make an overhead transparency of the map.
3. Make copies for each student.
4. Collect maps of other important places for students to investigate in a station.
5. Gather unit or centimeter blocks to use in small groups.
6. Check out books on maps from the library.


Session One (Whole Class)
1. Introduce maps and how they work by reading the book Me on the Map (or any other book about maps that's appropriate).
2. On an overhead aerial map of the school, locate places around the school. Have students come to the overhead and place chips or blocks on locations around the school and tell how they would get there. Build a map key and compass rose (absolute location) as you go.

Session Two (Group Work)
3. In small groups, label places around the school and discuss where they are in relation to the classroom (relative location). Discuss how they would get there, and place unit blocks to show the path they would take. As students remove the blocks, have them draw and color where the blocks were.

Session Three (Group Work)
4. In small groups, create a map key with the students to show how many units it would take to get to different places around the school.

Session Four (Group Work)
5. In small groups, have students explain how they would get to places around the school.

(While students are working in a small group with the teacher, other small groups would be completing one of the following stations.)

STATION 1: Place different maps and atlases in a station for students to practice this procedure with maps of other places important to them.

STATION 2: Have students create their own maps of an important place. The map should show the location of people, places, and things.

STATION 3: Have students make 3D models that represent the places depicted in their maps. Students may use materials from home or school.


As students work in small groups, make formative observations on their ease of locating places around the school. Use this information to guide further instruction. Interview students with their created maps to assess whether or not they can determine the location of people, places, and things on the maps. Look for absolute (north, south, east, west) and relative location in 3D representation of map, and that the student properly identifies and locates places. Assessment at this level is formative and therefore no absolute levels of performance were determined.


For students who are at ease with this concept, allow them to create a compass rose and map key. For students who need more support, have students buddy up to do map work.
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