One thing I plan to use with my 4th grade class that I learned was out there from this class is the mapmaker kit on the National Geographic web site. I would do the table top maps. It prints out maps in sheets. The table top maps are 8-9 pages. I would have them work in groups of four and put a map of nine sheets together like a puzzle. I would do the continents and oceans one. They have several, but that is that I would use first. I would have them trim the edges and put it together and then tape it with scotchtape on the back. That’s what I would do day 1. Day 2, after I laminated it, I would have them work in their tabletop group and label the continents and oceans and the lines of latitude and longitude. Day 3 (after I checked latitude and longitude lines for accuracy), I would have them find places by using latitude and longitude coordinates. They would have to do this with four different markers with each student having their own specific colored marker. This way I can make sure each kid did his equal share of work. Their partners could help them and tell them where certain things are, but every kid has to make his own mark. I could come up with questions where they would have to use the compass rose too.
At this web site they also have a mapmaker kit of just North America. I would use this table top map in a 5th grade class because we learn our 50 states in 5th grade. I would do it in groups of 4 just like the continents and oceans map and have them put it together like a puzzle on day 1. Day 2 after it is laminated, I would have them label the 50 states. Each student has to do 12 states and two students can do 13 states. Then I would put them away and pull them out when we learn the capital cities. They could label the capital cities then. I could have them do a latitude and longitude activity as a group too because they still haven’t mastered that skill in 5th grade. They could label cities using specific latitude and longitude coordinates.
I like the fact that I can create 5 maps just the right size for four students to look at. I do relays in my class where they have to tape the names of oceans and continents onto maps right now and I tell you, it is not easy to find at least 6 world maps, that are laminated and pretty close to the same size. One year, I left my 4 maps of the U.S. taped to the multi purpose room wall over a period of time (about a week) and two fell down. Well, the janitor threw them away because all the tape on them made them stick together. I just about cried when he told me he threw them away. Now that the National Geographic web site has a program where I can print them out, I don’t have to go scrounge for just the right map to use in relays. And I can have the student put it together.