Importance of Using Maps & Globes in Schools

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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 uses of maps for students, teachers can give their pupils an opportunity to understand more about the economic, 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.

1 The Importance of a Globe

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

2 Primary Uses of Maps for Students

There are many uses of maps for students, but ultimately, 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 builds students' self-sufficiency and confidence in their ability to formulate solutions.

By studying maps and globes, students can also learn much about a country, including information about its landforms, 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.

3 Understanding History Through Maps and Globes

The importance of a globe in the life of students is also so that they can 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.

4 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. And, if they are inclined to do so, students can also put their art skills to work, by creating paper mache globes in art class.


Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.