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What are Mental Maps

Time Frame

1 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups

Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication


Utah LessonPlans


Enduring Understanding: Students will use mental maps to give directions and become aware of the place in which they live.

Essential Question: What are mental maps?

How do we use mental maps?


Pencil and paper for drawing maps.

Background for Teachers

Mental maps have been used by all teachers at some point in their life.
Draw on past experience.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students need no prior knowledge altough many will have experience from giving directions.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to use mental maps when ever necessary.

Instructional Procedures

Hook: Where is Classic Skating Rink and how do you get to it from here.
(use any local place)
Classic is in Layton city. You go down 2000 W. in Syracuse then turn left on 2700 S. and go to 1500 Mw. in Layton. Turn south on 1500 and drive to Classic.

As students give directions to the rink ask questions of their directions. How far down 2000 W. do I have to go to get to 2700 S.. Oh, its about a mile. Is 1500 W in Layton this side or the other side of I l5. Its about ½ mi. this side of I 15. Explain to the students that to give these directions they had to use a mental map to give directions.

Mental maps are maps that represent the mental image that a person has of an area.

For example, When you go into a store and ask a clerk where to find Jello he will say;
It is on aisle 3, half way down on the left about shoulder high.

He has used his mental map of the store to direct you to the Jello.

Visualize means to see in the minds eye or our thoughts what we are thinking of.

Organize space means to think of all the images we have of a place and put them together in our heads.

Spatial relationships mean where images of the area are put on our mental map.

Central place means the area you start from when you start to sketch your map. In may be your home, the school, or the business district of town.

Work in your small work groups to do the following activities.

Class activity #1: Draw a map from memory of the floor plan of you house.

Class activity #2: Sketch a map of your neighbor hood showing where you live, churches, schools, parks and grocery store.

Class activity#3: From memory sketch your state and all the states that surround your state.

Class Activity#4: Draw a geometric diagram starting with the business district in the center then move out to the homes, farms, wilderness areas or land features like lakes or mountains.

Class Activity#5: Draw a map from memory of the physical features of your state.

Class Activity#6: Draw a map from memory where most of the people in your state live.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

This is basic level instruction.

Assessment Plan

Students will create 6 maps using mental images of things they know or map research.


No References

Created: 08/06/2002
Updated: 02/04/2018