Beacon Lesson Plan Library

South America Layered

Sammie Nicholls
Orange County Schools


Students produce an overlay map of South America to show the relationships between cities (population), landforms and economies.


The student extends and refines use of various map forms and other geographic representations to acquire, process, and report geographic information (for example, patterns of population, economics, rainfall, vegetation, landforms).


-Classroom set of atlases
-Map grid (See Associated File)
-Map rubric: South American Overlay Map Checkpoints (See Associated File)
-Checklist of physical features, cities, economies (See Associated File)
-Transparency for each student
-4-6 Packs of permanent markers (Ultra fine tip, 8-color pack Sharpies work best)
-Colored pencils
-Pens: blue, black and green


1. Gather supplies: transparencies, four 8-pack Sharpies, colored pencils, blue, black, and green pens.
2. Classroom atlases vary. Be sure to check that the cities listed on this attachment are shown and the same economic words are used. If not you may have to modify the Checklist (See Associated File) before you print and copy it.
3. Rubric values have been left blank to fit your assessment system. Fill in values before you print and copy the South American Overlay Map Checkpoints. (See Associated File)
4. Label a map grid for class instruction. The grid is set up for increments of 10. Latitude is 20, 10, 0, 10 etc.; longitude is 90, 80, 70 (west to east), etc.
5. Run copies of map grid, Checkpoints, and Checklist. (You may run a class set of the checklists.)
6. Prepare an example of a finished map. After you complete this assignment once, you can save student examples for next year.


1. Display a completed overlay map. (Students love working with transparencies and markers.)

2. Explain to the students the procedures for completing this map, the materials they will receive and how the checkpoints need to be met before they move on to the next steps.

3. Provide each student with a copy of the South American Overlay Map Checkpoints (See Associated File) and a map grid.

4. Read and explain the Checkpoints to the students. They may highlight, underline and circle key points, such as colors to use.

5. Label the map grid together. Degrees and directions should be written on the outer borders.

6. Label the equator on the western side. This will help orient the students to directions and act as a review for longitude and latitude.

7. Students can begin drawing the outline of South America using the atlases and reading map coordinates. Maps must be drawn in pencil first.

8. Checkpoint 1. Check outlines according to rubric. Students should make corrections if needed, and then go over outline in black.

9. Next, students copy the outline on their transparency using the black Sharpies.

10. Students can begin labeling and drawing the physical features listed on the handout.

11. Remind students to print horizontally in pencil first. They need to check spelling and they can have another student check.

12. Checkpoint 2. Check physical features according to rubric.

13. After this check, students locate and label the 10 major cities listed on the handout. They need to place the transparency over the map grid for accurate locations.

14. Remind students to label horizontally and to be extra aware of spelling since they are using permanent red markers. Helpful hint: students can work in pairs to help each other spell correctly.

15. Checkpoint 3. Check for city locations and spelling according to rubric.

16. On the transparency map, students shade or draw symbols to represent the economies.

17. Students use the Sharpies to shade areas or draw symbols to represent the economy.

18. Students create a key to name the economy and explain the colors used to represent features and cities.

19. Checkpoint 4. Check for economies and color key.

20. Final steps. Title on top of white grid paper. Compass rose.

21. Checkpoint 5. Students can check each other for this final step.


Using the rubric, formative assessments occur throughout the assignment at each checkpoint. (See Associated File) Students design a project using prior knowledge combined with new information to process how geographic facts interact and rely on each other.


1. Modifications for ESOL/ESL or ESE students: Reduce the number of items on the checklist; pair students for one-on-one explanation; modify rubric for spelling; provide additional time.
2. The project could be extended by adding further overlays to show rainfall, climate and/or vegetation.
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