Saturday, December 4, 2010

National Geographic's Giant Traveling Map of Africa: Resources

Mrs. Yollis is passionate about teaching geography!
  In fact, she is the coordinator of the Giant Traveling Maps program for her school district.  Starting in January, each elementary school will have the
 26’ x 35’ Giant Traveling Map of Africa for one week.

To find out when it will be at your school, see your principal. 
To find out how to get one for your district, click here.

Information About the Maps from National Geographic:

National Geographic Giant Traveling Maps are enormously entertaining and educationally powerful tools for introducing geography and map reading skills to students, grades K-8.

What better way to teach young people the power of maps and the limitless depth of geography than a basketball court-sized map of a continent on which they can explore, travel from country to country, hop around, compete, collaborate and have lots of fun?

National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps, produced by National Geographic Live, tour the country’s schools, bringing hands- and feet-on geography education to 300,000 students each year. Designed to promote geographic literacy by igniting interest in geography, the maps and accompanying activities incorporate physical movement and games to teach students place names, physical geography, and cultural geography as well as map reading skills.

These floor maps of Africa, Asia, North America, and South America are available for loan, each accompanied by a complete teacher guide, activities, game props, and educational resources.

Information About Using the Map: 

I recommend giving all students a 5 minute exploration time BEFORE beginning any directed lessons. This gives the students a chance to walk the map and familiarize themselves with the legend, the colors, and whatever locations interest them. 

Photograph by Trent Cambell

Lesson Plans from National Geographic:  

A binder with the following lessons will be available for you to use. However, to make the most of your time on the map, please review the lessons ahead of time. Feel free to modify the lessons to fit your class. A trunk filled with needed materials will be in the MPR for use. Depending on the size of your school, there could be opportunities to visit the map more than once.

Let’s Explore Africa (PDF)
  • Recommended for K-2, but these lessons offer some great introductory information about geography. These lessons could be modified for older students.
  • Materials: Scavenger Hunt Cards, yellow rope, cones
  • Vocabulary:  tropical areas, deserts, rivers, Nile-longest river, animal locations, Mt. Kilimanjaro -tallest mountain, coast, cape, towns, capitals, lakes, elevation -shaded relief used for illustration, borders, countries, and islands
  • Scavenger Hunt Game:  Students with parent helpers or older students are given cards. They place a cone on the location listed on the card.
Simon Says…Explore! (PDF)
  • Recommended for K-8
  • Vocabulary/locations: political boundaries, coast, cardinal directions, capital citiies, Sahara Desert, Kalahari Desert, Nile River, Okavango Delta, Atlas Mountains, Congo Basin, Lake Victoria, Atalntic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Gabon, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, and Egypt.
  • Materials: Simon Says cards (2-sided) and colored lanyards
  • Simon Says statements are provided on the lessons plans.
How Big Is Africa? (PDF)
  •  Recommended for grade 3-6
  •  Materials: blue nylon straps
  1.  How wide and how long is Africa? Students lie on their stomachs, head to toe, across Africa along its widest area. Another group does the same with the southern most coast to the northernmost coast. 
  2. Use blue nylon straps for the exact. (Each strap = 500 miles)
  3. The East – West distance from the coast of Gabon to the coast of Somalia is 4,655 miles. The
    North – South distance from the coast of Tunisia to the tip of South Africa is 4,989 miles – only
    334 miles difference.
  4. Make comparisons by sharing these facts with the students:
    • Distance from New York City to Los Angeles, California is 2,462 miles.
    • The total area of Africa is 11,686,111 square miles.
    • The total area of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) is 3,537,438 square miles.
    Africa is more than three times the size of the U.S.
    • Lesson plan has a table included:  Size of Africa in Relation to the U.S. States
    Cardinal Directions (PDF)
    •  Recommended for 2-6
    • Materials: colored cones, large hoops, map legends, cardinal directions game cards, teacher set-up key
    •  Vocabulary: cardinal directions
    • Students are divided up into teams. Student navigators draw a cardinal direction card and guide the student explorers  to the location on the card. Each explorer can only take one step at a time in the direction given by the team navigator. 
    • See lesson plan PDF above for more details.
    A Legend-ary Exploration (PDF)
    •  Recommended for 4-8
    •  Materials: 4 map legends/keys, 4 sets of photographs, metal photo holder, teacher key
    • Vocabulary: regions, symbols, tropical rain forest, desert, savanna, uban area, legend/key
    • Students are divided up into 4 teams and use the information they learn from exploring the regions of the map to correctly place regional photographs. (Photographs: dunes, pyramids, animals, people, aerial views, rivers...)
    African Population (PDF)
    •  Recommended for 4-8
    •  Materials: country cards, laminated climate and vegetation maps, colored plastic chains (5), plastic colored chips, orange polyspot
    • Vocabulary:  region, population, culture, economy, physical characteristics, political identity,  religion, biome, climate, landforms, vegetation.
    1. Divide students into 5 groups (Red Team • Western Africa,  Green Team • Northern Africa,  Yellow Team • Middle Africa,  Blue Team • Eastern Africa, Orange Team • Southern Africa)
    2. Teams are given plastic chains to mark each region and plastic chips to represent population. Each chip = 1 million people
    3. See lesson plan PDF above for more details.
      Additional Activities (PDF)
      •  Geo-Gym! Collaborate with a Physical Education teacher to create fun games on the map that combine exercise with geography! Use school Nerf balls, hoops, and flag football equipment to invent your own games! Remember: No shoes on the map! Running on the map is not recommended.
      • Music!  Invite a music teacher to lead an activity on the map using the sounds and instruments of Africa. Go to or play the compact disc included in the trunk to sample music from Africa.
      • Hemisphere Jumping! Place nylon strap on Equator. Jump from northern hemisphere to southern hemisphere. They'll get warm like they are at the Equator!
      • Ocean, Coast, Boundary, and Landlocked! Stand in the ocean, jump to the coast! Examine the lines that form countries. Are they straight or formed by a river? Look for landlocked countries! Explore!
      • Find It Fast! Divide class into teams. Students are given country cards and must locate the country within a given time.
      • Team Quiz! (See above PDF link.)

      ★     ★     ★     ★    

      Two years ago we had the Giant Traveling Map of Asia. 
      Here is a movie we made!

      One year ago, we had the Giant Traveling Map of North America. 

      ★     ★     ★     ★    

      What place do you want to locate on the Giant  Map of Africa? 

      Do you have any other ideas about what we could do on the map? 

      Can you share any facts about Africa?
      We ♥ learning!


      1. Dear Mrs Yollis,

        I love your post.
        I love the huge map and I think it is a wonderful learning tool.

        If I had a chance to visit Africa I would visit the Sahara Desert :-). The Sahara Desert is the largest Desert,it takes up to one quarter of Africa's land scape.

        Also I would love to see the African animals in their real habitat.

        I have got a suggestion for the traveling maps. You could make the mountians in 3-D.

        From Bianca

      2. Mrs. Yollis,

        Your giant maps are amazing! Something like that would be a great addition to our school as well. Where did you acquire these from? Thanks!

        Mr. Avery
        Plympton, MA

      3. Dear Mrs Y♥llis and Grade 3
        I think the Rift Valley would be fascinating for its landforms and its anthropology.

        Did you know that the Rift Valley is formed by the movement of tectonic plates away from each other?

        Here is a Wikipedia link if you are interested.
        Rift Valley

        from Mrs M♔K

      4. Dear Mrs Yollis,

        I love it when the giant maps visit our school! It's always fun to look at all the differnt countries.

        When I was reading Three Cups of Tea the author, describing his childhood in Africa, mentioned Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I would like to locate Mount Kilimanjaro on the map.

        Here are some facts about Africa:

        It is the second largest continent on earth (Asia is the largest) with an area of 11.7 million square miles. There are 53 countries in Africa and approximately one billion people.

        When are we scheduled to see the map?

        Your student,

      5. Leila (Hannah's sister)December 5, 2010 at 11:36 AM

        Dear Mrs. Yollis,

        I love the giant map! I wonder when my class is scheduled to see it.

        I also love the big blow up earth.
        In first grade I tried to hold it but it was too big and fell out of my hands.

        Last year we learned about the Sahara Desert in Mrs. Albertson's class. I would like to locate the Sahara Desert on the map.

        Did you know that the African elephant is the largest land animal?

        Leila (Hannah's sister)

      6. Dear Mrs Yollis,

        I am with Bianca I just love this Giant traveling Map.
        To be able to get down and close makes it so realistic on so many different levels.
        Wish we had a Traveling road map down under.
        See if I can work on that one!

        Yes I really love to visit the Sahara Desert and visit the Uganda children which you all helped.
        Hopefully, Bianca and I will be able to visit Africa one day.
        Then write a post about our wonderful journey to Africa.

        From your blogging buddy AA.


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