Maps, Map Skills, and Map Symbols for Kids and Teachers with games and classroom activities Illustration

All About Maps for Kids and Teachers

For Kids

A map is a drawing. Its basic purpose is to show where things are. A map might show physical features such as a forest or a lake. It might show things that cannot be seen like a boundary line or the temperature outside. A map can show anything you want it to show. Most maps are flat. If a map is displayed on a round surface, it is called a globe map.

There are five major parts of a map.

  1. Map Title - This is important so you know what you're looking at
  2. Map Key - The key tells us what different symbols, colors, and lines on a map mean.
  3. Compass Rose - This shows us directions on a map. Example: north, south, east, west
  4. Scale - Scale shows what a distance on a map is actually equal to the distance on Earth. For example, a map might state 1" equals 1,000 miles. If something on that map is 6" long, that would equal 6 times 1,000 or 6,000 miles.
  5. Grid - These are the longitude and latitude lines.

The best way to understand what is on a map is to see one. Click on the links below.

There's a Map on my Lap

Parts of a Map

Follow the Directions - N, S, E, W (game, interactive)

How does a compass work? (video, starring Owl)

Maps and Directions for Kids

Latitude and Longitude

What is a map? (Crash Course)

Maps, Map Skills, Map Symbols, Games & Activities for Kids

For Teachers

Free Online Interactive Maps

No Prep Map Skills Treasure Hunt, free lesson plan

Parts of a Map, free download (TPT)

Symbols Make a Map, free download (TPT)

Geography Scoop - Walk the Room, free from TPT

Map and Globe Word Wall Vocabulary Cards, free

Another Free Map World Wall Cards, free

Free Presentations in PowerPoint format about Geography

17 free maps of the United States, free download (TPT)