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Missouri Compromise Map Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The Missouri Compromise represents an important step in United States history leading up to the Civil War. This lesson offers activities oriented toward helping students understand the map of the Missouri Compromise.

Teaching the Missouri Compromise

Passed in 1820, the Missouri Compromise was an act that admitted Maine to the United States as a state with no slavery, divided the Louisiana Territory into free and slave regions, and allowed Missouri to remain a slave state.

Part of understanding the Missouri Compromise means understanding what the map of the United States looked like at the time and how it was affected by this act. To help your students along, you will probably want to incorporate some activities into your instruction.

This lesson focuses on activities that engage students in understanding the map of the Missouri Compromise while working from a variety of learning styles and strengths.

Visual Activities

Here, you will find activities that rely on visual strategies like using pictures, images, and graphic organizers.

Maps of Before and After

This activity lets students do plenty of looking. Show them several different images of maps. For instance, show them a map of the United States color coded by slave and free states and territories before the Missouri Compromise as well as after. You can also let them see images of what the map would look like under James Tallmade's recommendation to end slavery in Missouri, or without the addition of Maine.

Then, ask students talk about what they see in these images. Ask them what these maps show about why the Missouri Compromise was or was not a significant step in the history of the United States.

Color a Map

Once your students are familiar with the Missouri Compromise, they will also be ready to color-code a map on their own.

Break students into partnerships and give them a blank map of the United States. Have them work together to sketch out boundaries of states and territories as they existed in 1820. Then, have them color-code their maps according to slavery and freedom, showing how the Missouri Compromise impacted the map. Display maps to make sure they are consistent and accurate.

Kinesthetic Activities

These activities let students use their hands and bodies to understand the Missouri Compromise map.

Debate It

Break your students into two groups and have one represent William Pinkney of Maryland and his supporters, while the others represent Rufus King and his supporters. Explain to students that this is an acting activity, and the opinions they express are not intended to be their own.

Then, have each group prepare at least two different arguments supporting their perspective on the Missouri Compromise, but make sure they point to the map and use geography as part of their arguments. Finally, let students enact their debates, being as dramatic as they can to bring their perspectives to life.

Jigsaw Map

This is a fun activity that will allow students to prepare something for younger children.

Have students work with partners to trace a map of the United States onto cardboard. Then, they should cut it out into jigsaw puzzle-shaped pieces, each piece representing approximately one state or territory.

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