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Welcome to My World!

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 2nd Grade
Standard 3 Objective 2


Utah LessonPlans


This activity will incrase students' knowledge of using maps and how it is important in their lives.


Additional Resources


  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G. Shaw; ISBN0-590-42875-6
  • Scholastic Atlas Of The World, by Scholastic Reference; ISBN 0-439-52797-X
  • The Children's World Atlas, by Barnes and Noble Books; ISBN 0-7607-5929-4
  • The Nystrom Nystronaut Atlas, by Herff Jones, Inc.; ISBN 0-7825-0662-3

Background for Teachers

Students in second grade have been exposed to map making skills in kindergarten and first grade. This activity takes what they have learned and adds to their knowledge and skills of being able to use information from maps to locate information. It also adds to their knowledge of using maps and how it is important in their lives.

An Atlas is a collection of maps and in some cases contains interesting information that will add to the understanding of a specific place. Through making their own atlas, students will build a schema to help them gain a lasting knowledge of specific continents and oceans. By completing a hands-on project, they will be using different senses in which to make valuable connections within the brain that will help them with their understanding of maps and globes.

Political maps basically show borders, while topographical maps give information showing physical features.

Intended Learning Outcomes

5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills

Instructional Procedures

Invitation to Learn

Read the story, It Looked Like Spilt Milk. Comment on how the clouds could look like objects students are familiar with. Explain that Astronauts in space can look down on Earth from the sky and see shapes on the planet that may remind them of other things.

Show the students the pictures of the Blue Marble Earth and have them share what they see when they see the continents. Blue Marble Earth pictures can be found at the website in the Additional Resources section. It may not be easy to see the outlines of the continents on this map so after pointing them out on the picture, you could cut out the continent shapes from the Continent/Ocean Cards and place them on the overhead. If you do not have a picture of the earth, use the map of the world and point to the different continents.

Instructional Procedures

  1. This is an activity that will take several days to complete. Each continent should be a one-day activity.
  2. Show students a flat map of the world and a globe. Explain to them that a flat map is a two-dimensional version of the three-dimensional globe map. Take whatever time you need to discuss and review what is on the maps.
  3. Point to the continents and remind them they are the largest land masses on Earth.
  4. Hand out pre-made My Atlas Booklets to each student.
  5. Discuss what an Atlas is and explain that they will be making their own Atlas to record information that they can later draw from to locate important information.
  6. Start with the cover and the glossary. Help students recognize that the North American Continent in the globe on the cover is where they live. Color the cover. Work together to fill in the blank lines on the glossary page. (See answer sheet.)
  7. Have students color the map of the world on page two of their atlas. Color the continents of North America, Antarctica, Africa, and Australia yellow. Color the water blue and the other continents green. Explain that we will be putting extra effort in to learning the yellow continents and the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.
  8. Work as a whole group discussing and completing the Discovery Boxes. This will give the opportunity to discuss unique features of each continent or ocean. Discovery Boxes can be given to each student as part of the Atlas or the teacher can just use one copy to lead the students through the activity. (See Teacher Map Guide and Discovery Box Answer Sheet)
  9. While completing the Discovery Boxes, add the features to the maps and map keys.


Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration

  • Advanced students could research and add information to the Discovery Box.
  • Advanced students could add the three other continents to their Atlas.
  • The student My Atlas Booklet could be adapted to help students with special needs by having the physical features already drawn on the maps.
  • Students with special needs who still need to work on a concrete level could add sand and other tangible materials to their continent pages. They could also outline their continents with Wikki Stix.
  • Students with special needs could work with a buddy to work on their Atlas.
  • Having students fill in the blank spaces of the Discovery Box rather than writing the entire sentence is helpful to the student with special needs.
  • By having students locate the correct placement of physical features on their maps, they will be using skills taught in Math Standard III-2, find and name locations using coordinates.
  • Students will be using the Content Standard of I-3, Develop and use skills to communicate ideas and spatial awareness.

Family Connections

  • Use a commercial Atlas at home to help plan an imaginary family vacation.
  • Play a game of "Where's the (physical feature, city, map key item, etc.)" by using the coordinates on the maps from an Atlas.

Assessment Plan


  • Use a rubric to assess following directions and completeness of the My Atlas Booklet.
  • Assess the student's ability to locate and mark physical features by checking the completed booklet.
  • Assess the student's understanding of map keys by checking keys against symbols put on the maps.
  • Pre-assess student understanding of what maps are and what they are used for by using a K-W-L chart before beginning the lesson.
  • Play a flash card game using Continent Cards.
  • Have student glue a Continent Card at the top of a sheet of writing paper. Have them write three clues that would help someone discover which continent is pictured.
  • In a student journal, have students design a Venn diagram representing the differences and similarities in continents or similarities and differences between the continents and oceans.


Research Basis

Sutton, J., Krueger, A. (2002). What role does active hands-on learning play in mathematics instruction? Edthoughts: what we know about mathematics teaching and learning, pp 90-91.

Young students learn a great deal through sense perception and concrete experience. Using concrete materials helps them receive data through the senses. This makes more connections in the brain and helps the students better understand new ideas.

Rockman,, (2002). The academic value of hands-on craft projects in elementary schools, Academic Search Primer. Retrieved December 12, 2005.

Through this study of 76 teachers and 1600 students it was concluded that hands-on learning projects function as learning anchors and result in a greater ability to transfer skills to new contexts. Also, hands-on learning accommodates students with different learning styles.

Created: 06/26/2006
Updated: 02/05/2018