Maps are made to show information that would be difficult to understand
or interpret using photographs or some other means. For example, it would
take a large book to tell someone how to drive from New York to San
Francisco using only words, but a map can show this easily on one sheet of
paper. A map is the best way to see roads. There are many other things that
a map can show well. A city map can show where the parks, the schools, city
buildings, and libraries are located.
Suppose you wanted to live in the part of your city that had the most ice
cream stores. You and your friends could go all over town and find all the
ice cream stores and write down their addresses. However, if your city is
very large you would soon have pages and pages of addresses and no way of
telling where the greatest number were concentrated. A good way to record
them is to use a map of your city, and putting a "X" in each block
where there is an ice cream store. Then when you are finished you can see
what part of the city has the most "X's" and you can look for a
Maps are used by lots of people. Bus maps show commuters which routes
buses take. Climate maps show geographers how much rain or the highest
temperature in an area. Fire departments plot locations of fire-hydrants.
Geologists plot the locations of different rock types on geologic maps.
- Explain to the class that maps have many uses. Have the students list
different types of maps. List their ideas on the board.
- As an in class or homework assignment, have each student find a
virtual map on the Internet or a real map. Have the student write a
paragraph describing the purpose of the map, how it shows information,
and giving the mapís scale and other features it may have. You may
wish to assign specific map types to each student especially if you do
the assignment in the classroom.
Encourage them to look for a map that interests them. We recommend
using one of the search engines to find especially local maps. Make sure
the students writes down the URL of the website.