5th Grade Social Studies Unit 3

Vermilion Parish Schools "Connecting Students, Home and Schools"

Activity 2: Different Types of Maps (GLEs: 1, 2, 10)

Materials List:  historical map of the 13 colonies; road map of the United States; political, physical, climate, and resource maps

Students compare a historical map of the thirteen original colonies to a political map of today. Discuss what types of maps the two are and what information can be obtained from them. Discuss the differences in the two maps and the location of the colonies. Discuss the landforms, nearby bodies of water, climate, and available resources. Use physical, climate, and resource maps to aid the discussion. In the discussion of maps, ask students to explain what influenced colonists to settle in a particular area. 

Next, show the class a road map of the United States. Discuss how it is different from the historical map and the political map.

Display different types of maps and label each one with a different letter. For example:

  • a historical map of the United States僕abeled A

  • a political map of the United States僕abeled B

  • a road map of the United States僕abeled C

  • a climate map of the United States僕abeled D

  • an elevation map of the United States僕abeled E

Students should answer questions similar to the following and should explain why they would select one map over another in order to answer the questions:

  • Which map would you use to plan a car trip across the United States?

  • Which map would you use to find out the height of a certain mountain?

  • If you wanted to move to a place that had mild winters, what kind of map would help you to decide?

  • Which map would tell you what interstate highway runs north and south through Mississippi?

  • Which state has the hottest summers, Arizona or North Carolina?

  • Which states made up the New England colonies?

  • What would be the best map to use to locate the boundaries and capital city of Michigan?

  • Which map would help you find the land height above sea level of a certain area?

  • Which map would help you find the main states that grow cotton?

These are examples of questions that the teacher could use depending on the types of maps that are available. In addition to the textbook, some reliable websites for map resources are as follows:

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