Using Maps

Social Studies Middle School Medieval Europe
The geography of Medieval Europe, life in Medieval Europe, the role of the Church and Crusades, the late Middle Ages

This learning experience is designed for device-enabled classrooms. The teacher guides the lesson, and students use embedded resources, social media skills, and critical thinking skills to actively participate. To get access to a free version of the complete lesson, sign up for an exploros account.

1:1 Devices
Teacher Pack

The Pack contains associated resources for the learning experience, typically in the form of articles and videos. There is a teacher Pack (with only teacher information) and a student Pack (which contains only student information). As a teacher, you can toggle between both to see everything.

Here are the teacher pack items for Using Maps:

Preview - Scene 1
Exploros Learnign Experience Scene Navigation



In this experience students learn about the major types of maps and key concepts such as latitude and longitude. Then they encounter various map projections and the uses of projections. Next, they learn about contemporary high tech mapping processes involving tools such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Then they write an explanation of what they have learned, from the point of view of an antique mapmaker. Finally, they view a satellite photo of the moonlit Earth and discuss how it could be interpreted as a map.

Students will work together in small groups in scene 3.

This experience contains a lot of content. You may choose to teach it over two sessions in order to spend adequate time on the various elements of using maps.


  • Identify key cartographic concepts, including latitude and longitude.
  • Recognize and interpret types of maps and their purposes.
  • Explain the purposes of map projections and globes.

Most people probably think of a map as a means to find your way from one location to another. But there are more types of maps than you can imagine—maps that show you what parts of the world have the most or least money, how the population of the world is distributed, how diseases spread from place to place, where the most elephants live—maps for just about everything! In this experience, you’ll enter the world of maps and glimpse many of its wonders.


  • Identify key cartographic concepts, including latitude and longitude.
  • Recognize and interpret types of maps and their purposes.
  • Explain the purposes of map projections and globes.

Antique Map

Take a look at the map. It’s a few hundred years old and made on parchment, not paper. Although it’s interesting to look at, it wouldn’t be very useful today.

What items do you notice shown on the map? To list more than one, separate them with a comma, like this: cat, dog

Post your answer

Discuss student responses. Point out that there are drawings of a whale, a dragon, and other sea creatures. These drawings may have been warnings to navigators. In large part, however, they are for decoration.

Now look at a modern map of the same region of Europe and the surrounding areas.

Map of Modern Europe

Briefly discuss which areas the modern map labels—countries, capital cities, seas, and continents.

Explain that the antique map was intended for navigators and shows us how little navigators of long ago knew about the waters in which they sailed. 

What did the antique map get wrong and what did it get right? Why is the modern map more useful?

Post your answer

Discuss student responses. First, students must determine if the antique map is showing the North Sea and Scandinavia, or the Mediterranean Sea and southern Europe. Students can make an argument for either case.

When everyone is ready to continue, unlock the next scene.

End of Preview
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