Lesson plan

Learning About Maps

From the compass rose to the map key, first grade students will learn about three characteristics that make up a map. Symbols are used on maps too, as students practice what they can do!
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to identify the compass rose, symbols, and the map key as three different characteristics of maps.

(10 minutes)
  • Show students a map and ask them to identify what it is and what it is used for. Repeat while holding up the handouts of the compass rose, mini poster symbols, and map key. Be sure to cover the name of each with sticky notes to reveal at a later time.
  • After students share their thoughts, take off the sticky notes to reveal each map tool’s name. Display each picture for the students to refer to.
  • Tell students that for today’s lesson they will learn the purpose of all three map tools, and how they are used on a map.
(15 minutes)
  • Read Follow That Map! aloud.
  • During the read aloud, focus on key terms presented in the introduction. Ask students to point out examples of each throughout the story.
  • As students identify key terms, explain that a map is a picture or chart that shows rivers, mountains, streets, etc. in a certain area, a compass rose is a circle printed on a chart to show direction (N, S, E, and W), symbols are pictures used to represent a word or group of words, and a map key is a list that explains the symbols on a map.
  • Display each definition under each visual to create instant mini posters for students to view.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out to each student the Town Map worksheet.
  • Inform students that maps usually have titles, as you point to the top of the map. Ask students to say aloud the title of this map.
  • Tell students that they will look at the Town Map to gain practice in identifying symbols and reading a compass rose and map key.
  • Ask students to point to the compass rose on the worksheet. Once identified, have students label it with North, South, West, and East using the first letter only. Remind students to use the mini poster for help.
  • Next, ask students to identify the map key. Ask students to explain the use of the map key and its symbols.
  • Model the first two problems for students, and ask them to complete the third problem on their own.
  • Walk around the class to monitor students as they are working.
  • When students have finished, ask for a student volunteer to share their answer, while others check their own work.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask students to complete the Town Map worksheet.
  • For early finishers, pass out the Reading a Map worksheet.
  • Monitor students while they are working, and assist students who need extra support.
  • Enrichment: For students who need an extra challenge, provide the Build a City worksheet. Using this worksheet, ask students to determine, in writing, the direction of locations relative to another on the grid map.
  • Support: For students needing support, complete the Town Map worksheet as a small group. To provide support in reading symbols, complete the Reading a Map worksheet in a small group.
(10 minutes)
  • To check for understanding, monitor the classroom as students are completing their map worksheets.
  • Check the correctness of student worksheets.
(10 minutes)
  • At the end of the lesson, check and review the class assignment.
  • Review any missed problems, and show how to solve them for better understanding.
  • Ask students to share what they have learned in today’s lesson.

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