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Lab sheet & activites
Watch Class Movie
Teacher Prep Movie
Lab Materials Needed
Blockey Koa Crate
from Kea STEMCrate
- 1 Springy Spring Scale per student
Student Lab Sheet
Understanding Maps: Maps Help Us Understand the Earth
Earth's Systems 4-ESS2-2:
Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth's features. Maps can include topographic maps of Earth's land and ocean floor, as well as maps of the locations of mountains, continental boundaries, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
Pacing Guide: Recommended time to complete this unit - 1 month
Instruction day 1 (pages ): Explore the Phenomenon
Lesson Objective: Students
Materials needed: Students
Instruction day 2 (pages 163 - 164): Read and discuss
Summary: Preview the article, Meet the author and try the riddle
Lesson Objective: Introduce chapter to students, generate interest. Students relate to the scientists who wrote this chapter, and use clues from the riddle to solve the puzzle.
Introduction: Ask students to flip through the book and find the page that is most interesting to them. Have them whisper to a neighbor which page they found and show each other.
Ask: Who wants to share their favorite page with me? What do you see on it?
Example: I like page 170 because it has a bird on it!
Read about the authors
Ask: Where is she from? Do you live near there?
How cool that someone from our area wrote this chapter for us!
Ask: How do you think maps have helped Beth and Jake?
Example: They can mark where they took samples on a map.
Solve the riddle:
Whisper your best guesses with a neighbor.
Ask: Is this a hard or easy riddle? Do you have the same answer? Who would like to share their guess with the class?
Answer reveal: Compass! Thumbs up if that was one of your guesses.
Look at the cover of the chapter together and read the title.
Ask: What do you notice?
Example: A big bird! This label says it is the Eagle of the United States.
Ask: Can you find any names of things that you recognize? States? Bodies of water?
Example: I can see “Gulf of Mexico” and “Atlantic Ocean”, also states like “Arkansas” and “Maine”. I also notice many things are labeled “Territory” so this is probably an old map.
Ask: Can you think of any other things a map could be used for?
Example: To chart a river, to find the best route somewhere, to make sure you don’t get lost, to find the name of a landmark or road.
Take a class poll. “Thumbs up if you have ever looked at a map for your town. Keep it up if you have looked at a map of your neighborhood. Put it up if you have looked at a map for your state.”
Ask: Can you remember a time you used a map? What did you use it for?
Example: My parent used a map to get to a new friend's house/camping spot/store/etc.
I use maps all the time! I see how far away something is, the best route to get there and what else is nearby.
Teacher Training Videos
Instruction day 3 (pages 165 - 166): Read, write, and discuss
Summary: Students explore an imaginary treasure map and answer questions using the map.
Lesson Objective: Students discuss how to estimate distance and plan a route using a treasure map.
Introduction: Can you describe how to travel from your home to your school? Pick a neighbor and try! What about from your home to the grocery store? Or a nearby park? You can use words to describe how to get somewhere and someone else might be able to figure it out, but what if you drew them a map instead? Would they be more likely to find it if they listened to you or if you drew them a map?
Instructions: Read the text on the first page together and look over the map. Have students answer the questions on the second page to the best of their ability.
Ask: You are starting from the castle and want to get to the red X. Just using your best guess based on the features of the map, how far apart do they look?
Example: 1 mile? 3 miles? Hard to tell!
Ask: It looks like there are a few different ways to go. Will someone tell me one route you might take?
Example: take a boat along the river or go by land, but you still have to cross the river.
Ask: One of the questions on the second page asks about terrain. What does “terrain” mean?
Example: Terrain is a type of land; there can be swampy terrain, mountainous terrain, etc.
Ask: How are you choosing your route? Are you going the safest way? The fastest way? The most exciting way?
Example: I am taking a boat along the river because maybe the water will be flowing quickly and I can sneak past the dragons! I also won’t need a bridge to cross the river that way.
Ask: This map is missing a lot of details that would make our choice of route easier. What is something you wish this map had to better help you plan that journey?
Example: Names of places, distances between objects, levels of danger like if the lake monster will give you a ride, etc.
Wrap-up: Writing prompt: Take the story further! Whose treasure is it? We imagine this map corresponds to some place on Earth, what country do you think it could be? Some parts of the map seem dangerous, but some seem like they could be alright. Is the person by the fire likely to help you or hurt you do you think?
Instruction day 4 (pages 167 - 168): Read, write, and discuss
Summary: An upgrade of yesterday’s map, this time with more information and teaching students how to read that information.
Lesson objective: Students learn the important components to a map to share more information.
Materials needed: A compass or compass app on a smart device.
Introduction: Use your compass to find north. Put up a piece of paper with a large letter “N” on the wall so that when students face it they are facing north. (This can be done before class or students can watch how you do it or have students try to figure it out as a class depending on the level of difficulty desired.)
Instructions with Guiding Questions:
Read the first paragraph together then read the section about a compass rose. Have students adjust their book (and maybe themselves) then label their compass rose.
Ask: What should we label our arrow pointing up?
Ask: If up is North, then what should down be?
Ask: Do you think east is to the right or to the left?
Answer: To the left.
Good! East is the direction the sun comes from in the morning and West is where it is as it sets in the evening.
Read the section about scales.
Ask: What is our scale on this map telling us?
Example: What the distances represent. The length of one square is the length of one mile for the area.
Ask: How many squares wide is the map? How many miles does that represent?
Example: About 4 squares wide represents about 4 miles wide.
Read the section about keys.
Ask: When we saw the map before the key was added we didn’t know which of the drawings were safe things and which were dangerous things. Now that you see the key, can anyone raise their hand to tell me one of the things listed that we should circle as dangerous?
Example: Quicksand, angry ogre, maybe mountains.
Ask: Was there anything on this key that surprised you? Originally you thought it was something else and now you see it is something different?
Example: I thought the dragon was dangerous, but the key says it is friendly. Maybe it would give me a ride to the treasure!
Read the last direction at the bottom of the page and draw a route now that you understand the map even better.
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt: Share your route with a neighbor and tell them why you choose your route from the castle to the X.
Instruction day 5 (pages 169 - 170): Read, write, and discuss
Summary: Explain how a new route to the treasure would be better with new information. A new map is introduced showing bird migration.
Lesson objective: Students discuss how they used new information to determine a better route to the treasure.. Students interpret and answer questions about a bird migration map.
Instructions with Guiding Questions:
Have students write down the directions they would take in order to get to the treasure.
Prompt Questions: Are you using miles to describe how far away something is? Are you referring to landmarks that someone might see along this route? Are you describing how to avoid hazards? Be sure to mention any obstacles you’ll need to overcome
Have students use examples of the new information given on the map and how it helped them to change or keep the route they chose to get to the treasure.
Ask: Even if you kept the same route, I’m sure the new information changed the way you describe your route. What new information changed how you went or how you describe your journey?
Example: I didn’t know that the brown parts of the map were quicksand so I changed my route to go around it. I didn’t know how long it was so I decided not to go around the river.
Read the paragraph at the top of the second page. Look over the map.
Ask: What does it mean for a bird to migrate?
Example: To fly really far from one area to another.
Answer the questions at the bottom of the page.
Ask: Comparing the line representing migration with the line used for the scale, do you have a guess for about how far these birds are migrating?
Example: About 3000 miles.
Ask: The key tells us where the birds are starting from and where they end up, so if we were to draw an arrow pointing in the direction the birds are flying, would our arrow be pointing up or down?
Example: Down, towards Africa.
Ask: Would you say the birds are moving towards the north or towards the south?
Wrap-up: Pair/share or write in book: What other animals besides birds will migrate? (Examples: Butterflies, whales, elephants, etc.)
Instruction day 6 (pages 171 - 172): Read, write, and discuss
Summary: Discuss lines of latitude and longitude.
Lesson objective: Students discuss lines of latitude and longitude. Students apply that knowledge to answer a question.
Introduction: Do you know where the equator is? Who can describe it for me? (A line around the middle of the Earth.) Yes! But is it a real line? Did someone paint a big red stripe around the entire planet? (No!) We use imaginary lines like the equator to help us find different places on our planet.
Instructions: Read the text on both pages together. Have students guess the latitude and longitude of the smile in the drawing.
Discuss: When we measure latitude we are starting our measurement from the equator. That is an easy place to start from, lots of places are near the equator. Then we call the measurements away from the equator “degrees”.
Ask: Moving up from the equator, what is the first line you see labeled?
Answer: 15° North
Everything at that line is over 1000 miles north of the equator!
Ask: What is the first line you see under the equator?
Answer: 15° South
Ask: Do you notice the pattern that is happening with the lines?
Example: The numbers increase as you get further from the equator, all the lines above it are North and all the lines below it are South.
Ask: What is the highest number of latitude you can get?
Answer: 90° north or south, at the poles
Ask: The spaces between the latitudinal lines are even amounts. They give us a trick to remember the lines that are latitude, what is it?
Example: “Lat is flat!” The lines for latitude are flat, straight across, left to right.
Ask: On the next page we are learning about the lines that run from north to south. We can see the 0° line, what parts of the world does it go through?
Example: Europe and Africa.
Ask: Every line of longitude is measured from the east or west of that line. Can you see a similar pattern compared to the lines of latitude?
Example: The numbers increase as you get further away from that center 0° line.
Ask: The spaces between the lines are different. Where are the lines widest apart from each other? Where are the lines closest together?
Example: Widest apart near the equator or middle of the Earth. Closest together At the north and south poles.
Everyone say “long”, does your chin go down? Your mouth is more up and down when you say “long” so we remember that lines of longitude go up and down.
Ask: Find the middle of the Earth’s smile to estimate it’s latitude and longitude. How many degrees is it from the equator? North or South of the equator?
Example: 15° North
Ask: Do you think the smile is lined up with 0° longitude, or is it a little off? To the East or to the West?
Example: 2° West
Wrap-up: Look up the coordinates of your school to share with the students. If there is time, have students look up their address to see the latitude and longitude of their house. Can use www.latlong.net to look up an address, use the “GPS Coordinates” on the right. The numbers can be long, but just focus on the degrees for this lesson.
Instruction day 7 (pages 173 - 174): Read, discuss, and write
Summary: Introduce habitat and geologic maps.
Lesson Objective: Students use the keys of maps to help interpret data and answer questions.
Introduction: Maps can be used for more than directions! We use maps of an area to show how the land can have different ecosystems, the population of an area or how high mountains can be there. It all depends on how you draw it. We are going to talk about common maps scientists use in their research.
Instructions with Guiding Questions:
Read the text on the first page and look over the map.
Ask: We see a couple of important features on the habitat map of Australia. Can you find the compass rose? What does the key show us?
Example: The compass rose is at the top left. The key shows different colors for different ecosystems or habitats.
Ask: Which colors take up the most space on the map of Australia? What do those colors mean according to the key?
Example: Mostly the colors orange and light yellow, they represent desert and grassland.
Read the text on the second page and look over the maps.
Ask: When we look on the second page we see two maps of the same area. What do you notice about the maps?
Example: I notice they have different colors. I notice that one has lots of curved lines on it and the other looks like a photograph. It looks like maps of a hill.
Ask: Our key shows us the blue is representing what?
Example: The river or water.
Ask: The other colors are very similar, but they all represent some type of sediment. What is sediment?
Example: Usually a loose kind of soil or rock, it literally means “what has settled after movement” whether moved by water or land movement.
Discuss: Landslide sediment is ground that has moved recently due to a landslide, sand sediment is tiny grains of rock, gravel sediment is rocks larger than sand and glacial sediment hasn’t moved since the ice age!
Ask: Does the part bordered in red look different compared to the land around it in either map? How can we answer the last question: “What is the most common sediment on this geologic map?”
Example: Look at the colors of the top map and find what color takes up the most space: dark yellow. That color represents landslide sediment.
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt: Can you think of why either of these maps could be helpful? (A habitat map can help us know where certain animals live. A geologic map could help someone find gold! Etc.)
Instruction day 8 (pages 175 - 176): Read, write, and discuss
Summary: Learn to read a topographic map.
Lesson Objective: Students discuss how to interpret the lines of a topographic map.
Introduction: When I say that Mt. Everest has a high elevation, what does that mean? (It is tall, it reaches up high towards the sky.) It is hard to draw something that is tall on a flat piece of paper! Scientists have found a way to share the height of mountains and depth of valleys in a special type of map called a “topographic” map.
Instructions with Guiding Questions:
Read the text on the first page and look over the diagrams at the bottom.
Ask: Do you see how the drawings at the bottom of the first page make a kind of a V-shape? Each V-shaped line has a height next to it. What is the highest number of feet we see? What is the lowest number?
Answer: 2,000 feet and 1,200 feet
Discuss: Ridges are usually described as the edges that go up a mountain, valleys go down a mountain and can often be found at the base or between mountain ranges. Usually there is running water, like a river, in a valley.
Ask: Do you live in a valley?
Example: Yes, we have mountains nearby, but we don’t live on them. The Kern River is not far away.
Compare the drawings at the bottom of the pages with the marked areas on the picture on the second page. Note how the curved lines are similar and how the height is marked in both.
Ask: The text talks about the farm being terraced. How would you describe what the farmer did to his land?
Example: He made flat sides along a hill so it was easier to grow crops.
Discussion to relate to students: Have you ever been on a road going over or next to a mountain where the land on both sides of the road was steep? In order to make that road the engineers terraced that part of the mountain to make it flat so cars could drive safely on it.
Analyze the last drawing at the bottom of the second page.
Ask: Each line of the “circle” has an elevation written on it. What is the widest circle’s elevation? What is the smallest circle’s elevation?
Answers: 3,000 feet and 3,600 feet
Ask: So is the largest circle the highest or the smallest circle the highest? Is this a map of a mountain peak going up or a pit going down?
Answer: Smallest, this is a map of a mountain peak.
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt: Can you think of any other things that could have high elevations? (Skyscrapers, clouds, airplanes flying in the sky, etc.)
Instruction day 9 (pages 177 - 178): Hands on Activity: Make a Treasure Map!
Summary: Students apply previous knowledge to create their own map to treasure they hide in a secret location at their school. Students exchange maps with another class and use their map to find that class’ hidden treasure.
Lesson Objective: Students apply both mapmaking and map reading skills learned in this chapter.
Materials Needed: small chest from Koa Crate, “treasure” (items for another class to discover that fit inside the provided chest), colored pencils or crayons are optional.
Introduction: When you draw a map, what are some important things to include? (Key, compass rose, scale.) Today we are going to draw a map of a place that you are very familiar with, our school! Specifically we want to trade treasure boxes with another class and we’re going to use maps to do it!
Instructions with Guiding Questions:
Decide what goes into the chest.
Ask: We want to make our treasure something the other class wants to find. What ideas do you have to put inside?
Example: A flower, a cool rock, a joke
Students break into small groups to discuss a good location to hide the chest.
Ask: What should we keep in mind for our hiding spot?
Example: It should be not too easy, but not too hard either. It should be somewhere the other class can’t see us when we hide it.
Discuss: What places did your group come up with? We’ll list them on the board. (Take a class vote or use teacher powers to pick a good location.)
Prepare students for the walk to the hiding location.
Ask: What should we pay attention to along the walk?
Example: Nearby classroom, nearby bathrooms, nearby doors to the outside, landmarks, etc.
Ask: How could we measure distance?
Example: How many steps it takes to go in a certain direction.
(Extra! Could offer students scratch paper to do a rough draft drawing while they walk.)
Walk as a class to where you will hide the chest. Decide how well you want to hide it. Let students sit nearby or return to the classroom to start drawing their maps.
Ask: How will you mark where our chest is hiding?
Example: With an X, with a picture of a chest, with the word “Treasure”
Discuss: You can use colored pencils, you should include a key and a scale. A compass rose would be helpful. We don’t want to make the map too difficult for the other class to read, we want them to find the chest because our maps are so good! Or you could leave subtle clues, like the color of a door.
Have students turn in the maps they have finished. (Carefully tear out for them, make a copy, or trade entire books with the other class to be traded back.) Trade maps with the other class, pass out maps to your students, have them share if needed.
Ask: We have treasure to find! Where do we think we need to go?
Example: I think it’s in the cafeteria!
Students compare maps given to them and discuss the best place to go.
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt? Was it harder to draw the map or to read someone else’s map? What about it was harder?
Instruction day 10 (pages 179 - 180): STEM Vocabulary
Summary: Use pictures to describe vocabulary words learned throughout the chapter.
Lesson Objective: Students demonstrate learning by illustrating vocabulary terms learned in this chapter.
Introduction: We’ve learned so much! You’ve probably seen a map before this chapter, but now you know how to use one so much better! Let’s show what we’ve learned.
Instructions: Have students draw a picture representing each vocabulary word. Use Guiding Questions as needed.
Ask: How would you describe what a compass rose looks like?
Example: Similar to a star. Lots of triangles.
Remember to label north, south, east and west.
Ask: Your key and scale can represent anything you want to! What ideas do you have for a key?
Example: I’m going to use a star to mean my favorite places to visit.
You could use colors or symbols. They could represent land, water or even animals.
Ask: For equator, latitude and longitude lines show us what those lines look like on the Earth. Remember our tricks! Which lines are flat?
Ask: Your topographic lines are probably going to be curvy. How are you going to label them?
Example: Height, maybe in feet.
Wrap-up: Write a note to your teacher: Which word is still a little confusing for you? What was your favorite thing to learn about this chapter?