10,000 Map Give-Away

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If you are familiar with the My Wonderful World Campaign,
then you’ve probably seen our “We Are Not Alone” print ad and poster.

When we travel to conferences and promotional events, people
cannot get enough of these posters. In fact, when we hand them out along with
candy, the posters are the faster movers. At the rate at which we roll and band
those things, I’m confident that the only force preventing me from developing
some serious paper cuts is the karma I’ve built up spreading the good word of
global knowledge.

 As much as your average person likes a freebie, I’m convinced there’s more to the poster’s appeal than that it adds some color to
the wall of those unwilling to shell out for a Monet. In so many ways, the “We
are not alone” visual is the perfect embodiment of the My Wonderful World campaign, proof of that old adage about a picture being worth a thousand
words. It is a message that resonates
with people all over the country, people who recognize that our nation’s
children often lack the geographic skills critical to cross-cultural understanding and success in a global economy, and that this is a serious
issue worthy of attention and corrective action.

This Geography Awareness Week we’re working to fill in the
rest of the map and show America’s
young people that “We are not alone.”
To serve that mission, we’ve embarked on a campaign to distribute 10,000 world maps to teachers and
students in the District of Columbia metro area. As of this very moment, literally thousands of local teachers in D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia are opening envelopes with world
maps and “We are not alone” posters to display in their classrooms.

But maps are meant to do more than just beautify your wall. Our  “We are not alone” posters offer a strong call
to action, and we’re hoping that the  maps will serve as resources to heed
that rallying cry. Not sure where to get
started using your world map

Our friend Matt Rosenberg over at About.com: Geography has
offered his own call to action: He’s challenging each of us to develop a basic
level of geographic literacy by learning–at a minimum–the name and location
of every country in the world. Read Matt’s column for more: His central
argument is that this fundamental exercise helps us to form mental maps
critical to understanding global connections between people and places.

I second Matt’s suggestion (hey, if 23-month-old Lily can do it, I think we’re all up to the task) and encourage you to find
more ways to get to know your map and, by extension, your world. Here’s a list
of map activities I’ve searched the
web, my own brain, and the cortex of a fellow education staffer to compile. I hope
that you’ll use these activities as a springboard to get you thinking about
maps, geography, and the power of global knowledge this week. And if you’re in
the D.C. area, bring your family to “Coach
L’s World Ball Night”
at George Mason University this upcoming Saturday. The halftime show will feature world basketballs and giant maps of Asia to help us culminate a week of geographic exploration. A
special thanks to National Geographic Xpeditions for providing such a wealth of
comprehensive lesson plans.

Sarah & Mary’s

1. Map your class! (can be adapted for
various age groups)
Have students locate on the map
(e.g. with removable stickers) countries from which their families immigrated
to the United States.

a) How
many continents are represented?

       b) Are
there any patterns (e.g. do students families tend to come mostly from Europe? Latin

America? Asia?)

Extension: Have students explore
their countries of origin by:

a) Using
modern sources to research a country from which their family immigrated

(General information for younger
ages, more specific topics for older students)

b) Looking
through family records, if available (more extensive genealogical investigation
for older students)

c) Conducting
interviews of older relatives (parents, grandparents, etc.)

d) Asking
students to share family cultural traditions (e.g. food, holiday, religious,
sport) with the class

2. 20 Questions
Play 20 questions with a world map! One student thinks of a
location: city, country, landform, etc. and other students ask questions to
guess what it is. Encourage students to practice using directional and other
geography terms. This activity is probably most appropriate for pairs or small
groups of students.

3. Name Game
Have students name a world location for each letter of the
alphabet. You can do this for varying scales and types of features: e.g.
cities, countries, rivers, mountains, etc.

4. Country

Have students research and then compare and contrast two
countries. You might select countries that have dramatic differences (e.g. for
younger ages), or many similarities and more subtle distinctions (for slightly
older students). Ask them to try to identify some features that make them
similar or different.

a) Do
they have similar climates?

b) Do
they have similar size populations?

c) Do
majorities of their population practice the same religion?

d) Do
they have comparable levels of economic development?

e) Do
they have similar colonial histories?

f) Do they have similar natural resources?

5. Map your community
Have students look at a variety of maps, and then get them
to create a map of their neighborhood or school with a key, title and
appropriate map conventions.

6. Map evolution
Discuss maps as a source of information that changes
through time. Look at old maps of the
world and new maps and discuss changes in the maps. Change can be political e.g. moving
boundaries and changing names. Maps can also change through exploration: More
detail is shown in areas as we know more about them. If available, you might
also look at the evolution of community maps, which show a finer scale of
detail. Can you changes in development? In the surrounding environment and

7.  Locate Earth’s Physical Extremes

Maps4Kids provides a series of “top 10” lists about the
Earth. Have students use the lists to locate some of the world’s physical
extremes on a map (e.g. largest mountains, rivers, lakes, and country areas.)
An atlas could also be used for this activity, and also to identify examples
beyond just the top 10 (this may be especially appropriate for expanding the
study of mountains, for example, since the top 10 are located in a
geographically limited area of Asia).

8. Locate Earth’s Political Extremes

Maps4Kids provides a series of “top 10” lists about the
Earth. Have students use the lists to locate some of the world’s political
extremes on a map (e.g. most populous countries and cities, most widely spoken
languages). An atlas could also be used for this activity, and also to identify
examples beyond just the top 10.

9. Seven Wonders
Use the lists at Maps4Kids to have students locate and
research the history of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Students can
also locate and research the history of the Seven “new” Wonders, voted on by
over 100 million citizens around the world. What makes these places so special
and unique? What do they have in common, and how are they different? Check out
the “New 7 Wonders” website for a description of the contest and the wonders.

10. Top 10 lists
Have students use other available resources to research and
compile their own “top 10 lists” and
locate them on the map. Be creative! For example: 10 tallest structures, 10
most traversed roadways, 10 most popular tourist destinations, 10 coldest
cities, 10 most “international” cities.

In-depth online
lesson plans and other web activities:

Basic Map Skills
& Applications

Grades K-2

1. Where in the U.S.Would You Want to Live?
National Geographic

 2. Exploring
Physical and Human Characteristics of Earth’s Spaces
National Geographic Xpeditions

Grades 3-5
3. What We Can Learn
From Maps
National Geographic Xpeditions

4. Which Direction
Should I Go?
National Geographic

5. Where in the
World? Using a Geographic Perspective to Identify Destinations for a Class Trip
National Geographic Xpeditions

Latitude & Longitude
Grades K-2
1.Introduction to
Latitude and Longitude
National Geographic Xpeditions

Grades K-6
2. World Latitude and Longitude
Enchanted Learning

Grades 3-5
3. Important Facts about Latitude and Longitude

4. Understanding Latitude and Longitude

Grades 6-8
5. Latitude,
Longitude, and Mapmaking
National Geographic Xpeditions

           Maps: Physical
Grades 3-5               

1. Comparing the
National Geographic Xpeditions

Grades 5-8
2. Label landforms

Maps: Political & Cultural
Grades 9-12

1. Maps and Current
National Geographic

2. Yours, Mine, and
Ours: Determining Boundaries
National Geographic

Sarah for My Wonderful World


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