Posted in Education, Humanities, Teaching

Making Mapping Fun: Layered Regions Map

While I was never a big fan of geography as a student, I love teaching it.  The idea that geographical landforms can affect the way a society evolves is so interesting.  Different places have different climates, languages, money, and culture.  How cool is that?  In one region of the US, they call soda, pop.  How and why did that come about?  However, although I find this sort of stuff engaging, am I presenting it in such a way that my students feel the same way?

Today in Humanities class, we began a unit on the state of NH.  We wanted to put the micro-view of our community and the town in which our school is located into perspective for the boys.  We spent the first two terms digging into the Cardigan and Canaan communities.  Now it’s time to go macro.  We started that process with small group discussions.  The students shared what they learned regarding the regions and areas of NH.  We learned about Canaan, the Lakes Region, and Enfield.  Then, we had the students describe what other regions and areas of the state they want to learn more about.  They said, “The history of NH, White Mountains Region, and Lebanon.”  We then bridged this gap of regions they want to learn more about with mapping.

I had the chance to guide the mini-lesson on mapping and how to create a layered regions map of NH.  I started the discussion by having the students share the regions they talked about in their small groups.  We then created a class definition of Region before adding more ideas to our regions list.  Then we brainstormed a list of things all maps contain.  The students have clearly done mapping in the past as they hit everything we had hoped they would.  I then quickly modeled how their regions map would go together before letting them get to work.  The students seemed excited and engaged with this activity.  They were focused on carefully hand drawing an outline map of NH.  They completed complicated math equations to determine the scale of their maps.  This brought in the idea of unit rate that we learned about earlier this year in STEM class.  Talk about integrating the curriculum.  While no one finished in class today, many students made much progress.  The students were focused and on task.  They seemed engaged as they learned about the geography of our great state.

How to Make a Layered Regions Map

  1. On a piece of blank copy paper, hand draw an outline map of the state.
  2. Be sure to include a compass rose and scale.
  3. Place a piece of tracing paper over the map and then label the region you wish to include on your layered map.  You will be able to see the outline of the state through the tracing paper.  You will not need to create another outline on the tracing paper.  Just shade or somehow mark the regions on the tracing paper.  Be sure to include a title and key.
  4. Then, repeat step 3, as many times as you would like to have the students create separate regions maps.  We went with three.
  5. Using a brad or paper fastener, attach the three pieces of tracing paper to the outline map created in step 1.
  6. You will be able to see how different regions interact with one another and draw conclusions from that.

While mapping can be a tedious activity for some students, this is a fun and engaging way to allow them to see how diverse their home state is.  It’s a haptic way to bring geography to life for our students.  It’s not about memorizing states and capitals, but about understanding how one place can include many different regions and areas.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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