Library of Congress
Geography and Maps
Use these lesson plans, created by teachers for teachers, to explore geography and maps.
- Creating a Primary Source Archive: All History Is Local (Grades 6-12) Creating an archive of primary source materials constitutes the principal activity of a year-long American Studies class focusing on historiography and the use of primary sources. Maps are one of many types of primary sources used to explore local history.
- Around the World in 1896 (Grades 6-8) Students role-play the experiences of members of the World's Transportation Commission on their travels in 1896. Their itineraries are plotted and followed on world map, based on locales to visit and methods of transportation available at the time.
- Primary Sources and Personal Artifacts (Grades 3-8) Students act as historians, analyzing different artifacts. The lesson for Grade 4 – Linking Rare Finds examines the Nashua River. The lesson for Grade 6 – Turning Points is a lesson entirely based around students becoming cartographers and analyzing maps.
- Drake’s West Indian Voyage 1588-1589 (Grades 6-8) Students investigate maps depicting a voyage by Sir Francis Drake involving attacks on Spanish settlements around the Atlantic. Students look closely at the details and draw conclusions about individual events as well as the entire voyage.
- Explorations in American Environmental History (Grades 6-12) Students are introduced to historical perspectives of nature and the environment. In The Photographer, the Artist, and Yellowstone Park step 5, students use a special presentation from the Mapping the National Parks collection to research the creation Yellowstone National Park.
- Local History: Mapping My Spot (Grades 3-8) Students create the history of their town to share with future generations. Students place themselves on the map in a literal as well as figurative sense, by producing portions of an updated version of an early twentieth century panoramic map from the American Memory collections.
- Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal: An Educational Voyage (Grades 3-8) Students trace Marco Paul’s 1840s journey through the Erie Canal. In the Chapter 1: Planning lesson, students trace the route and modes of transportation taken by Marco and Forester from New York City to Schenectady.
- The New England Fishing Industry:
Sea Changes in a Community (Grades 6-12) Students study photographs, maps and interviews with two New England fishermen of the early 20th century, construct "found poetry", and research in Thomas to understand legislation restricting the fishing industry. Activity two features map analysis skills.
- Mark Twain's Hannibal (Grades 9-10) Using both primary source documents and print materials, students analyze life around Hannibal, Missouri, during the latter half of the 19th century to determine what effects this location had on the writings of Mark Twain. In Lesson One: Analysis of Primary Resources, students analyze panoramic maps. Lesson Two: Searching the American Memory Collection directs students to maps of Hannibal, MO for analysis.
- Waldseemüller’s Map: World 1507 (Grades 3-8) Students investigate this historic map by looking closely at the details of each section of the map and then draw conclusions on the revelation of this new and unusual world to the people of 1507.