Why students need important map skills before learning about history | Mentoring in the Middle

Why students need important map skills before learning about history

 🎵 Down by the bay 🎵 

Where the watermelons grow...

Do you remember that song from your childhood?  My kids used to listen to Raffi ALL. THE. TIME.

But what if your students don't know what a bay is?  

  • How can they understand
    •  the importance of cities built in the safety of one 
    • What a bay provides that more open space doesn't  
    • When location in a bay can be dangerous  
    • Whether significant battles were fought in bays 
    • What the difference is between a bay and a gulf
Picture of Geography Landforms Worksheets
I would have my students work through this 20-page Geography Landforms Notebook as we start learning about the importance of maps.  We explore where we are in the world and review the continents, directions, and the value of compass roses.  And then we learn about twenty landforms and bodies of water.  That way, students start out on an equal playing field when we begin to explore history.

If we have a block of several weeks, I allow students to create their own countries.  This is a fun PBL (project-based learning) activity that blends learning about actual landforms and oceans with a country they create around a theme.  Students have to use all twenty landforms and oceans, and several other geographic features and they have to create a written history of their country.

It's the perfect blend of Geography, Art, and Writing.  You can take a look at this popular project here.
  • If you are looking for Social Studies materials for next year, there's an amazing sale that starts next week!

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