I was recently approached to describe with more detail the process that I use for a Grid activity (If you want to read more about building the Grid, check it out here, and here) that uses data points for cities so students can construct a map of the world. This post will be fairly Spartan but will have all the ingredients needed to build out the picture below.
Materials for Mapping activity
- 1-2 boxes of magnetic business cards $19.00 each
- 6 different colors of construction paper, enough paper for the number of cards for each region.
- thin black sharpie
- a class set of atlases (or Google Earth)
You can order the magnetic business cards from any retailer, I went to Staples (the Mecca of any respectable teacher).
I cut the magnetic business cards into thirds and adhere them to sheets of colored construction paper. I don’t pre cut the construction paper here because it’s easier to just cut out the business cards after they have been stuck to the construction paper. The first year I did this I tried to use twenty data points (cities) for each continent. This seemed to work out well but I realized that Asia needed more. I used cities that were on the coast and capital cities for my list but also included populous cities and other data points that I thought could help fill in the map. In hindsight, I should have included more cities from Russia, Siberia specifically, to fill in black space. There are A LOT of data points. You don’t have to use them all (I’m a bit obsessive) To be honest it took me only about 2-3 hrs of time to write out all the names on the magnetic cards in a thin, black Sharpie. The list looks daunting but don’t feel like you have to use every one. Make something that works for you and the outcome that you are trying to get your students to achieve.
List of cities (216 total data points)
North America (28 data points)
New York City
Cabo San Lucas
San Jose (Costa Rica)
Panama City (Panama)
South America (23 data points)
Punta Arenas and/or Tierra del Fuego
Stanley (Falkland Islands)
Rio de Janeiro
Belem (Mouth of the Amazon)
Africa (51 data points)
Island of Zanzibar
Europe (30 data points)
Asia (65 data points)
Bandar Seri Begawan
Australia/Oceania (19 data points)
Adamstown (Pitcairn Island)
Once the map is finished (or close to it), I would take a photo of the class so they could see the results of their work. The finished map is quite impressive and it’s a great jumping off point for any number of conversations about world geography. Why are there so many capitals in Africa? Why did you put so many Chinese cities on the map? How come there are no cities in the northern part of Africa?
I’ve had dreams of getting students to overlay physical features on top of the map but have yet to try it out…I have my limits of insanity.