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Scale Drawing Activities & Games

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Scale is vital in geography, and the drawing of scale maps and drawings is an important skill. We can make learning this skill a lot of fun by having our students take part in engaging activities. Check out these ideas.

Scale Drawings Games and Activities

Geography is about understanding phenomena in the world, with an eye towards the spatial. Are you looking at a map of the Alps? Or, a color-coded population density map of Houston? And when it comes to maps, or any representation of something spatial, scale is important. On a single sheet of paper you can have anything from a world map to a map of your living room (usually called a scale drawing). Understanding scale helps you interpret these maps or drawings, and is an important skill for any geographer or geography student. This lesson will provide a few ideas for games and activities you can use to introduce your students to scale drawings.

Cartoon Scale Drawings

One way to make scale drawings fun for students, is to use the example of cartoons. In traditional, hand-drawn animation, lots of animators would often have to work on the same character. Or sometimes one person would leave his job, and that character would have to be animated by someone new. Being able to animate a character in a consistent way requires an understanding of scale. Every frame of a cartoon has to have the same proportions.

To practice this, give students a random selection of line drawings of famous cartoon characters. Their goal is to re-create that drawing in a smaller and larger size. This can be done by overlaying grid squares, and re-creating each of those grid squares individually. Students can also be given a ruler to measure and make sure that their new drawings are to scale.

Classroom Map Activity

Another possible activity to help students learn about scale drawings is to create a map of the classroom which is to scale. A map is really just a scale drawing. The main difference is that a map always has to be from above, whereas a scale drawing does not. Since they're so similar, practice for one means practice for the other.

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