Internet map and direction databases as well as global positioning systems (GPS) have revolutionized the way people find locations, but they cannot replace the skill of reading and examining maps and globes. By studying and investigating types of maps, students can understand more about the economical, political and social features of a country, in addition to gaining geographical knowledge. The study of maps and globes also increases critical and abstract thinking skills that will help students as they progress in school.

Relevance/Perspective

When students know how to read maps, they will be able to see the world in a new light. Maps provide much more than just a location. Map reading can give students a sense of perspective when they see that they are part of a larger world, which could instill a desire to learn more about the places on a map than just their names.

Problem Solving

Map reading helps students improve problem-solving and reasoning skills. For example, students can calculate how far the library is from their school or house. They can also formulate the easiest and fastest routes to travel to favorite vacation spots. This build students' self-sufficiency and confidence in their ability to formulate solutions.

Geography

By studying a map, students can learn much about a country, including information about its land forms, bodies of water, natural resources and climate. A major part of geography concerns the technical aspects of map construction. Students will learn about the symbols and tools of maps, such as the compass rose, key and titles that help distinguish one map from another.

History

Students get a strong sense of the history of a place by studying its maps. Maps have to be redrawn periodically to reflect changes that result from wars, politics and internal conflict. By studying old and new maps, students can see these transformations. For example, they can learn about U.S. history by studying maps from the colonial period to the post-Civil War era. Students can also see how Europe has changed several times during the last century as areas gained independence or became part of another country.

Cross Curricular Education

Students can reinforce writing skills by comparing features of various countries that they have learned from studying maps. They can also improve math skills by graphing average temperature and rainfall amounts from physical maps. Because there are many types of maps, students can learn to organize and classify data, which is a useful skill for any academic subject.

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