Beginning map skills in the classroom involve exploring different types of maps and having students work to create a map of their own that provides directions for others. While older students may focus on map symbols and scale representations, the goal of basic map skill lessons is often to expose students to the simple use of maps to help people find their way.

Types of Maps

Introduce students to a variety of maps, such as a school-wide map, a city map, a state map, a map of the United States and a world map. Show students different types of maps, including topographic maps, road maps and relief maps. Explain what each map is used for. Give the class a chance to explore and compare the different types of maps and share things that they notice about each map. Point out important places on each map, such as your classroom on a school-wide map or your state on a map of America.

Class Map

Work with your students to create a map of your school or community. Talk about important things that need to be included, such as every classroom and the sidewalks for a school map, or the road and houses for a community map. Draw as a class the basic outline of the map, including all important buildings and roads, and then allow students to add such details as building windows or road names. Once the map is completed, take a walk around your map area to compare the accuracy of your map to the real thing.

Student Designed Maps

Give each student the chance to practice making skills by having all students design their own map of your classroom or school playground. Before the students begin, discuss such important items that need to be included in the map as student desks in the classroom, and the slide and swings on the playground. Once students have created their maps, have them show the map to a classmate to check for any map details they might have left out.

Map Directions

Practice map reading skills by sending students on a scavenger hunt. Create a map of your classroom or school, noting a place where a small treasure is hidden. Have your class work together to find the locations noted on the map to find their treasure. Another option for this activity is to have students use a map created by a classmate to find their way across the room or school to a specific place.