Maps and Globes

Integrated Social Studies Unit

Mary Jane Boswell

April, 2000



Unit Overview


"Don't Get Lost" is an integrated unit that has two parts.

The first mini-unit is a maps unit. It has many lessons that teach a first grade class about map symbols, north and south, and the making of a map. I taught this mini-unit to Mrs. Janet Carlston's first grade class at Adams Elementary School in Logan, Utah. The children loved standing on a table to see what a bird would see, helping make a classroom map out of a shower curtain, and making their own classroom map out of graham crackers and candy (as the symbols). To assess whether they learned north and south, the principal came and said he was looking for a treasure map. The children gave him directions using only "north, south, east, and west." I really think the principal was impressed by these ambitious first graders. I really feel like the children understand all the concepts.

The second part of this unit is the mini-unit on the seven continents. I made up a song to the tune of "Au Luetta." The children mastered this song, and would sing it all the time. At recess I thought children were more interested in playing than singing to me, BOY was I wrong! I taught a lesson on each continent. Sometimes we would read children's literature from that culture. To introduce Africa and Asia, I had a couple of friends who spent some time there, come and teach the children about the culture and customs of the place and the people. The children thought this was incredible! They asked superb questions like, "What do they eat there?" or "What kind of houses do they live in?" The children were very interested in the different cultures. I read them a fantastic book "Whoever You Are" by Mem Fox. I would recommend it to everyone. It teaches about how we are different, but we are all the same!

I had a wonderful experience teaching these mini-units. The children all learned a lot. Below is a copy of the lesson plan I used to culminate the continent mini-lesson. I also want to share with you my assessment activity. This is kind of an overview of everything we did.

Please if you have ANY questions or suggestions email me:



Make your own World

Lesson Plan




To evaluate the student's knowledge of the seven continents. To see if the children can place the correct continent in the correct place on a circular globe. To evaluate the knowledge of the culture and people of the different continent.



Tell children that this is the last activity in our unit for learning about maps and globes. Tell them that now is the time to show us what they have learned.



1. Hand out a blank continent map. Have children color the continents. Make sure they label them in the neatest handwriting. (Do this as an evaluative procedure, so have all the class color Africa green and then wait for further directions.)

2. Have children place their colored continent map in their portfolio.

3. Hand out each child a Styrofoam ball (painted blue) and a bag full of the cut-out continents.

4. As an evaluative technique have the children place the continents in the correct place on the Styrofoam ball to make it into a world.

5. After they finish their globes and have checked them off with the teacher. Have the children write in their story folders about their new knowledge of maps and globes, and how they would use it to help them if they were lost.



cut-out of continents

Styrofoam balls (painted blue)


continent map




The teacher will provide a globe for a student who is blind, and her cut-out continents will have puffy paint outlining it. This student can refer to her globe, that has the continents outlined to feel where the continents go on the globe.



Have children pass off the finished product to the teacher. The teacher will make sure that the children understand the concept of the globe, and where they fit in. The teacher will also ask if they can point out the north pole and south pole.



"Don't Get Lost"

Maps and Globes Unit

Assessment Activity


To assess whether the students have learned the concepts that are outline in the Utah State Core Curriculum. To assess whether the students understand the use and purpose of maps, the compass rose, a map legend, birds-eye view. Students will be able to use a classroom map. Students will also show that they have learned the names and location of the seven continents. Students will locate the North and South poles on a globe.



Tell students that we are going to have centers in which they prove the knowledge that they have learned in the maps and globes unit. This is the last activity of the unit. Separate the class into three (or four) groups. (It is ideal to have about 4-5 students in each group). Show them which center they will go to. Have a parent volunteer run each station. Introduce the three (or four) centers that they will go to. Give each child their assessment paper and tell them that they must have the parent volunteer or teacher sign each criterion. Tell the child that they are responsible for their own assessment paper and to turn it in at the end of the lesson.



1. Allow time for each center. Ring a bell to tell the children to switch groups. When the students have finished all the centers, have students congregate back in their seats. Talk through what they did. Have students turn their assessment papers in.

Mrs. Carlston's First Grade class with their box villages.

Center #1 Maps

1. Have a display of various maps. Have a group discussion of why we use maps. Teacher (parent volunteer) will include all students in this discussion.

2. The box villages they created will be set up in a community. Teacher (parent volunteer) will provide a piece of paper for the children to make a map.

3. Ask students what they need to include on their map. Make sure the students all know that at legend, symbols, compass rose, and bird's-eye view are required.

4. When their maps are finished, the students will pass it off to the teacher or parent volunteer. If all components are present then pass off #1-#3 on the assessment sheet


Center #2 North and South/Classroom Map

1. Group will be asked to face north, south, east, and west inside the classroom.

2. Group will go outside, there will be a blank compass rose drawn on the blacktop. Each child will be given a sign with a cardinal direction on it. They will place the correct cardinal direction in the correct spot on the compass rose.

3. Group will then come back inside the classroom. The shower curtain map that we made as a class will be on the floor. Parent volunteer (or teacher) will ask each student to identify which way is North, what the symbols and legend is for, where their individual seat is located, and where the teacher's desk is. Students could stand on it when identifying their seat, etc.

4. When this successfully done, mark off #4-#6 on each child's assessment sheet.


Center #3 Globes:

1. Parent volunteer (or teacher) will lead the class in singing the "Seven Continent Song" written by Mary Jane Boswell and Lisa Hales.

(to the tune of Au Luetta)

"Europe, Asia, North and South America

Africa, Australia, and Antarctica.

These are the seven continents of the world.

And we live in Utah in North America."

2. Make sure every student is demonstrating the knowledge of the song, especially the names of the continents.

3. Have the children place the continents on the big paper mache globe. Each child must do this and pass it off to the parent (or teacher).

4. Parent (or teacher) will ask each child to point out the north and south poles.

5. Student will point out the continent that they live on.

6. Parent (or teacher) will read Mem Fox's Whoever You Are. Have students participate in a group discussion of the similarities and differences in people around the world.

7. When all these concepts are mastered, mark off #7-#12 on the Assessment sheet.


Center #4 Story Folders

(Optional for smaller groups and/or not enough parent volunteers)

1. Have students sit at their desk and work on their story folder. Prompt them to write about what they have learned in the unit on maps and globes, or a story about someone who got lost, or if they could go anywhere in the world where would it be?



"Whoever You Are" by Mem Fox

assessment sheet for each child (attached)

Paper mache globe

cut-out continents

sidewalk chalk

north/south/east/west signs

shower curtain classroom map

various maps

children's box villages set up to look like a community





Students will turn in their assessment sheet. If students didn't get something passed off, pull that child aside and talk through the concept.


"Don't Get Lost"

Maps and Globes Unit

Assessment Sheet



Name of Student:____________________



Initial requirement when student has mastered the concept.



1. The student is able to explain why we use maps.

2. The student is able to identify and explain the use

of a legend and map symbols.

3. The student will explain the what "bird's-eye view"

is, and explain how we used it in our classroom map.

4. The student can point to the North, South, East, and West

inside the classroom.

5. The student can point to the North, South, East, and West


6. Students will create their own classroom map and

correctly identify North on their map, use correct symbols

previously set up, where their seat is located, and where

the teacher's desk is.

7. Sing the "Seven Continent" song.

8. Correctly identify the seven continents on a globe.

9. The student knows what continent they live on.

10. The student can place the continents on a globe in a

sequential order.

11. The student can locate the North and South poles on

a globe they created.

12. The child understands that people are all the same and

should be treated with respect and love.