1st Grade Arkansas

Map Skills

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of the compelling question, “How do maps talk to us?” Students create symbols, use directional words and a compass rose, develop map keys, and discover relationships among items on a map as they learn to use the language of maps. They are able to distinguish between physical and human characteristics and understand that the purpose of the map dictates what information is on the map. By investigating the compelling question, “How do maps talk to us?” students evaluate the variety of information that maps provide and what information is necessary depending on the purpose of the map. The formative performance tasks build on knowledge and skills through the course of the inquiry and help students gain proficiency in the rudiments of geography. Students create an evidence-based argument explaining ways in which maps speak to us, and why maps represent different things.


Compelling Question:

How do maps talk to us?

Staging the Question: Watch Let’s Explore! Learning about Maps by Anna Crocker available on Youtube to facilitate a discussion about maps.

Supporting Question How are symbols used on a map?

Formative Task Make a list of physical and human characteristics and related symbols that might appear on a map.

Sources Source A: Beginner’s World Atlas, National Geographic
Source B: My Map Book Sara Fanelli
Source C: 2nd Grade Understanding and Making Maps Symbols Youtube (2:58)


Supporting Question How do a map key and compass rose help people read maps?

Formative Task Create a map key for a map of their classroom and include a compass rose.

Sources Source A: Mapping Penny’s World Loreen Leedy
Source B: What are Maps? Learn & Grow Kids Geography Lesson – Leap Frog – Youtube (:46)
Source C: Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown Kat’s Maps


Supporting Question How does a bird’s-eye-view of a place help you see it?

Formative Task Draw a map of a familiar place using a bird’s-eye-view.

Sources Source A: My Map Movie Digital Story.wmv by Rachel A Dempsey Youtube (4:23)
Source B: Market Maze Roxie Munro
Source C: Henry’s Map David Elliot


Supporting Question How can the same place be represented by different types of maps?

Formative Task Create two different maps; the first map shows major cities and illustrates physical characteristics of AR; the second map illustrates economic resources.

Sources Source A: Beginner’s World Atlas, National Geographic
Source B: Teacher selected maps of local community or state (physical map, climate map, natural resources map)

Summative Performance Task

Argument: How do maps talk to us? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that discusses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from the sources.
Extension: Introduce geographic technology. Access Google Earth and zoom in to the local community/city/region. Discuss how these maps look different from the maps they have seen in the sources. Time permitting teacher can show students how to zoom from a bird’s-eye-view to the street view of the school. Source A: Gain a New Perspective by Google Earth (:55)

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Maps have a variety of uses; they show us many things about places and help us get from one place to another.
Assess: How a new student would find their way around the school.
Act: Draw a map of the school including a title, map key, compass rose, and scale.