Reading Maps Activities for High School

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

The ability to read a map may be underrated these days, but it's still an important skill. This lesson provides teachers with map reading activities for high school learners.

Check the Map

The following reading map activities will work best as a supplement to a larger lesson on map reading. Most of these activities require paper maps. However, if you permit your students to use cellphones or other electronic devices in class, feel free to adapt the map activities for these devices.

Mapping the Future

In this activity, students will practice reading a map that has just been created.

  1. Instruct students to draw maps of what they believe their neighborhood, city, or country will look like in 50 years. The maps should be detailed and include borders, place names, and geographical features.
  2. When the maps are complete, have students randomly exchange maps.
  3. Have each student stand up and read the map he or she was just given. As part of this reading, students should describe key details and features of the map. During this process, the author of the map can correct and comment on the map reading his or her classmate is providing.

A Legend is Born

This activity will help students practice how to read a map by designing a legend and can be done either individually or in pairs.

  1. Hand out a map to each student or pair of students, but make sure the map does not include a legend.
  2. Give the students some time to review the map and create a legend. The legend should include a variety of symbols for roads, junctions, geographical features, and other items typically included on a map.
  3. You can also encourage students to draw new features onto the map as necessary.

To conclude the activity, ask students to explain their legends and have a discussion about the similarities and differences among the legends they created.

Back-to-Back Map

In this activity, students will practice reading a map in a way that can be easily understood by another person.

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