Using maps in the classroom

Using maps in the classroom

Teaching tip

Have you already looked at the map of the British Isles showing all the locations used in the Now books? This month we give you some general ideas for using maps in the classroom.

On the Discover Now map there are several activities on the reverse that you can do with your students. You may also like to ask your students to choose one of the places on the map and do some Internet research and prepare a short presentation to the class: Which place sounds the most interesting? Which place would your students like to visit and why? – So, with this map, you are well provided with varied possibilities to use it in the classroom.

You can, of course, use this and any other map in different ways in the classroom. Here are some ideas how to do this easily and effectively:

For the first two activities have a map which everyone can see (either one big one or make multiple copies).

Activity 1: Where am I? (Level: A1; 10+ mins - depending on number of students)

Start by saying: I’m in a city in the north of the country. It’s near the coast. Where am I? Students suggest a city. If the answer isn’t correct, give them more clues: It’s about 50 kilometers from XXX.

Or simply say: Where am I? and your students have to ask questions, for example: Are you in the north? Are you near the sea?

Encourage all your students to have a turn at taking the teacher’s role. More confident students should provide more clues and tips about their location; less confident students should be asked more questions by the other students.

Activity 2: A version of ‘I went to the market …’ (Level: A2; 10+ mins)

Start by finding a city beginning with ‘A’: I started my journey in (awesome) (Ambleside). The second player looks at the map to find a city or town and then continues: I started my journey in (awesome) (Ambleside), then took a train to (beautiful) (Bangor). The next student continues: I started my journey in (awesome) (Ambleside), then took a train to (beautiful) (Bangor), the next day I took the bus to (cold) (Coventry) …

Encourage as many forms of transport and adjectives as possible. You can also add other vocabulary items, such as food: I walked to (modern) (Manchester) and I ate (mushrooms).

Of course you don’t need to play this game alphabetically. You can play geographically: start in the south east of England with (dirty) (Dover) and walk to (fantastic) (Folkestone) and on to (horrible) (Hastings).

Using the map for this game helps visual learners, who can ‘see’ the towns they have to remember.

Activity 3: Countries of Europe (Levels: A1 Starter, A1, A2.1, A2.2; 10+ mins)

Print out a map of Europe and cover up the country names. Distribute a copy of the map to each group of three students and ask them to write in the country names. This tests spelling – countries should be spelled correctly – and it’s also a discussion activity.

Activity 4: Country outlines (Levels: A2.1, A2.2; 15+ mins)

You don’t need a map for this map game!

Draw the outline of Italy on the board. Ask your students which country they think it is. It won’t take long before someone says the correct answer. Ask: Why do you think it’s Italy? (Because it looks like a boot.)

Draw a country that is not so easy to recognize (six-sided France, perhaps). Encourage suggestions from your students, but ask them to justify their opinions. (It could be Germany, but the north part isn’t right. / I think it’s Poland because it’s the right shape.) It doesn’t matter which country they suggest, the aim is to encourage them to say WHY they think it is a particular country.

Then ask your students to draw the outline of a country on a sheet of paper. When everyone has finished, pass the completed maps round the class and ask students to write the country name under each map and give a reason for their choice. (I think this is (Chile), because it’s (very long).) Encourage every student to write a comment on each map. In the end each student should get back the map he / she has drawn. Ask everyone to report to the class about his / her map.

This activity may cause cries of alarm (I can’t draw!), but encourage everyone to have a go. It can be great fun – and you may have a budding cartographer in your class.


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