Need fresh, engaging ideas for teaching math, language arts, and science? Don’t overlook a fantastic resource you probably already have in your classroom: a wall map.
You already know that wall maps are the best tools for teaching geography; you probably turn to them daily to give context to current and historical events, demonstrate basic concepts like cardinal directions, and more. But maps can elevate your students’ learning in other subjects too.
There are many natural connections between wall maps and math, for example. You can integrate map features such as bar scales, grids, land elevations, and line segments in a wide variety of math activities: counting, measuring, adding, subtracting, and graphing.
Wall maps are also excellent resources for creative language arts and literacy activities. Use maps to boost reading skills, expand vocabulary, and help students practice alphabetization and categorization. They can also inspire fun writing activities. Have students identify a local spot they’ve visited and write a poem about it, create a promotional travel poster for a faraway place, or set a fictional story in a country they’re studying in class.
IN SCIENCE Wall maps can also support and enrich science instruction. Students will gain a deeper understanding of concepts like climate change, plate tectonics, landforms, natural environments, vegetation zones, and animal ranges when you incorporate maps into lesson plans.
To get started using wall maps for cross-curricular instruction in your classroom, try these teaching tips.
Math: Using Grids
1. Explain to students that every place on Earth has a “global address” based on its latitude and longitude.
2. On a U.S. or world wall map, point out the horizontal lines representing various latitudes and the vertical lines representing various longitudes. Explain that these lines form a grid.
3. On the board, write the degree number of one latitude line and one longitude line. Ask students to find the point on the map where these two lines intersect. Then ask them to name a city or geographical feature located near this “address.”
4. Repeat with other latitude/longitude coordinates.
Language Arts: Consonants and Vowels
1. On a U.S. wall map, ask students to find states whose names begin with a consonant and end with a consonant. Collect a list on the board. (There are 12: Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.)
2. Have students identify any two-letter consonant blends in these names.
3. Ask students whether or not Kentucky and New Jersey should be included in the list. (Answer: No, because the “y” at the end of their names is functioning as a vowel.)
1. Ask students what they think the word climate means. Explain that climate is the kind of weather a place has over a long period of time — for example, how hot or cold, wet or dry it usually is.
2. On a wall map of the world, point out the equator. Explain that climate is related to latitude, or the distance north or south of the equator. Generally, the warmest climates are found in regions near the equator. This is because the sun’s rays hit these regions almost directly from above. The coldest climates are found in the regions near the North Pole and South Pole, where the sun’s rays hit at a very low angle.
3. Prompt students to consider how the weather might impact the lives of the people who live near the equator.
These are just a few of the ways you can use maps as engaging, hands-on resources across your curriculum. To get more tips, lesson plans, and other teaching resources, visit RandMcNally.com/education.