Understanding and Using Maps

Contributor: Victoria Surface. Lesson ID: 10270

Where would we be without maps? The same place we are, but we wouldn't know where we are or how to get to somewhere else! If that's confusing, learn about maps from videos and make some maps yourself!



learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Comedian Steven Wright said, “I have a map of the United States — Actual size. It says, 'Scale: 1 mile = 1 mile.' I spent last summer folding it. I hardly ever unroll it. People ask me where I live, and I say, 'E6.'” Learn about real maps and how to use them in this lesson!

There are many different kinds of maps, but they all have some basic things in common.

Let’s explore identifying and using information on a map!

Begin the lesson by watching Let's Explore! Learning About Maps by Anna Maetzold (below). Complete the Understanding and Using Maps Resource Notes and Answer Key found in the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar. Print the first page of the notes and fill in the missing words in the sentences from the video. An Answer Key is on the second page:


Review maps with Maps - an intro for kids - Sanger Academy by Larry Sanger (below). You do not need to take notes for the second video:


Now, review the basic parts of a map:

  • The title tells what the map is about.
  • A compass rose shows direction on a map.
  • The cardinal directions are north, south, east, and west.
  • Symbols are pictures on a map that stand for something in the real world.
  • A map key shows what symbols on a map mean.
  • A map scale is the distance on a map compared to the actual distance on the ground.

Have some fun with these interactives to practice your map skills!

Continue on to the Got It? section to make your own map!

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