I love maps… always have. Since I was in school, I would collect the National Geographic maps and hang them in my room. I memorized most country locations and really fell in love with how much there is to learn and explore through these maps. By the time I got to junior high, I had been drawing maps by hand for nearly every project I did. I originally traced, but ended up drawing them with some success. I never got a job for Rand-McNally, but I thought I did pretty good for an untrained south-suburban kid!
One thing lead to another recently and had a class discussion about maps. they really provide a good deal of critical thinking. Aside from analyzing and committing to memory the physical shape of a country/state through drawing it, identifying important features requires a good deal of knowledge. What cities are important? What states or territories are relevant? Are any bodies of water (natural and man-made) or geographic features relevant to a given time period? These may be simple, but they related to the principles of Geographic Literacy we spoke about earlier in the year.
For this map, a few weeks ago before break, I had laid out the following guidelines.
- Draw a map of America around the year 1815 (the time period we studied before break).
- Include any states, territories. If it’s not America, it’s NOT on the map (goodbye, Nevada!)
- Include 10 important cities.
- Draw any important geographic features.
- Include a Compass.
- Use color, be creative.
We also explored what more you can do with maps, from creative illustrations, symbolism and imagery, to interesting perspectives. Have fun, and be simple – all you need is your textbook, some colored pencils and a sheet of paper. This is a small activity, not a major project… enjoy it!