Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
America Will Be

Learning From Maps

Objective: Students work together to research and create different types of maps of the United States to be used as part of a geography trivia game.

What You Need:

Suggested Time:
3-4 hours over 2 days

Building Background:
Explain that different types of maps are used to show different things. Provide examples, such as a map showing the capitals of the states, interstate highways, or population distribution. Ask students for additional examples. Write their responses on the chalkboard. Possible answers may include annual rainfall, natural resources, and railroad lines. Tell students they will creating their own geography trivia games. They will be researching and creating their own maps. Once finished, they will create game questions for each to answer by using their maps.

What To Do:

1. Divide students into four groups. Give each group a copy of the United States map. Assign each group one of the following topics for North America: annual rainfall, climate, mountain ranges and major rivers, and state borders.

2. Have each group research its topic and create its map using the information it collects.

If necessary, review with students the parts of a map, including the legend, scale, and compass rose. Groups should also give their maps titles.

3. Display the completed maps where they can be easily seen. Using a separate sheet of paper, have each group think of five questions which can be answered by looking at one or more of the maps. For example: Which states are bordered by mountains? How many states does the Mississippi River touch from its beginning to its end? Which states have both a mild climate and heavy rainfall? Encourage students to develop questions that require combining information from more than one map or from each of the four maps. Remind students to write the answers to their own questions on a separate sheet of paper.

4. Have the groups exchange questions until they have answered each of the three other question sets.

5. Discuss the answers to each question set. Which were the easiest questions? Which were the most challenging? Why?

Encourage students to discuss the different kinds of information that can be gathered from different types of maps. Do they notice any advantage to putting several different kinds of maps together to get a better understanding of a region?


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