Where in the World? Building Map Skills

Globetrotting on a Map

Our planet is so vast. From mile high peaks to low lying islands, arctic tundra to arid rain forests.  The beauty and splendor is amazing.  This breathtaking canvas is occupied by 7.6 billion people and organized by the invisible borderlines of 195 countries. How many could you find on an unlabelled map?

Exploring a map or atlas is an adventure in itself.  The different names, the topography, the climates and animal habitats all weave a tapestry like none other.  As One Planet, One People, we have so much in common but, also so much to share that makes us each unique.  Understanding our world begins with understanding our globe!

Why Learn Map Skills?

With the advent of GPS our reliance on technology has decreased our perceived need to learn how to read a map.  Moreover, not only are we not versed in how to uses maps, but are less likely to even encounter one.

Map skills are still an important ingredient to understanding your surroundings and the world at large.  When listening to the news, our knowledge of geography helps us better understand where items of interest are happening and how they could effect other parts of the world.

How to Build Better Map Skills

The easiest way to learn more about maps of the world is to spend time exploring them.  Hear a geographic name you don’t recognize?  Look it up!  Not sure which countries border an area in conflict? Pull out an atlas and find out.

Here are four other projects to build map skills for young and old:

  1.  Google up some geography. While technology has made us less able to self-orient, it has also opened doors to experiencing geography like never before. Instead of just a static drawing or photograph in a book, interactive maps, such as Google Earth, brings the maps to life.  Spending time exploring and “voyaging” via Google Earth you can become a globetrotter right from your living room. There are numerous projects online to enhance your learning.
  2. Build the world by hand! Making a globe by hand is a great way to gain an understanding of where places are and how they relate to each other.  Globes can be made from pumpkins, paper mache, styrofoam balls, or printable that are assembled.
  3. Map what you read. Find locations mentioned in the books, and news that you read.  Learn more about the area around the point you discovered.  Get a wall map and mark each of these spots to keep track of your reading travel.
  4. Play a game. Playing games, both board games and video games, that include travel is a fun and easy way to learn more geography. Puzzles, as well, turning playing into learning. Try some of these:

Where will you explore today?

 

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