Initial Publication Date: July 1, 2013

Teaching with Maps

This page was created in support of AGIs "Map Our World Week", October 13-19, 2013.

Using maps in the classroom invites curiosity, encourages exploration and inspires problem solving. Maps can be used to explore a multitude of topics and can incorporate visual learning, spatial thinking and quantitative skills into a lesson. Read on to explore vivid imagery from maps and learn how our online lessons integrate mapping and help you create innovative lessons.

Jump down to Mapping Activity Collections | Resources from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers

Bring mapping activities into your classroom!

Browse our map activities collection with over 100 classroom activities for teaching with maps.

Maps are Engaging!

The three examples below show how maps can enhance your instruction.

What does this map show?

Where is this?

Would you live here?

Mapping Activity Collections

The three examples above provide a glimpse of the kinds of activities that educators can use in the classroom. Using maps provides context and relevance to topics covered in class as students can more easily visualize complex ideas and situations. Students can also form a much better understanding of the scale involved when maps are used. Below, find several collections of lessons that provide a multitude of ways for students to interact with maps.

Go to /k12/map_activity.html
Map Activity Collection. Visit this collection to find over 100 activities that involve mapping or using maps in K-12 classrooms.

Go to /eet/index.html
Earth Exploration Toolbook - The Earth Exploration Toolbook is a collection of computer-based Earth science activities. Each activity, or chapter, introduces one or more data sets and an analysis tool that enables users to explore some aspect of the Earth system. These chapters give step-by-step instructions to enable teachers to introduce real data sets and tools into the classroom.

Go to /earthlabs/index.html
EarthLabs: A National Model for Earth Science Lab Courses - This project has developed online units for a high school Earth science lab course that is scientifically rigorous and quantitative in order to address the perception of high school Earth science as being "not a real science" compared to biology, chemistry, and physics. The units cover Corals, Cryosphere, Drought, Earth Systems, Fisheries, and Hurricanes and consist of online and laboratory experiments, reading appropriate primary literature, and conducting web research.

Go to /sp/library/google_earth/index.html
Teaching with Google Earth- This resource offers information about how to incorporate Google Earth into your class. The resource presents a collection of materials that use Google Earth along with specific examples of how you might use Google Earth in your class.

Go to /sp/library/gis/index.html
Teaching with GIS - This resource provides descriptions of work that can be accomplished through the use of analysis of printed and electronic maps to teach about GIS concepts without requiring students to use software that is not accessible to most high school students.

Go to
GeoMapApp activities provide a way for educators to use geoscience data and imagery in the classroom. The site contains data-driven geoscience learning modules aimed at the K-12, Community College and Introductory university levels.

Go to /marsforearthlings/index.html
Mars for Earthlings seeks to expose undergraduate students to planetary study through Mars remote sensing data and Earth-based analogs.

Resources from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers

The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) works to foster improvement in the teaching of the Earth sciences at all levels of formal and informal instruction, to emphasize the cultural significance of the Earth sciences and to disseminate knowledge in this field to the general public. For more information about NAGT visit our web site. We encourage membership from all those who are engaged in the teaching of Earth science, click here to join NAGT today.

NAGT Awards and Grant Opportunities

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of earth science content with their students is eligible. For more information about the award and to submit a nomination visit OEST Awards

Dorothy Stout Professional Development Grants
Dottie Stout was the first female president of NAGT and was active as a strong supporter of earth science education at all levels. In honor of Dottie's outstanding work and lifelong dedication to Earth Science Education, NAGT awards grants to faculty and students at 2 year colleges and K-12 teachers in support of the following:

  • Participation in Earth science classes or workshops
  • Attendance at professional scientific or science education meetings
  • Participation in Earth science field trips
  • Purchase of Earth science materials for classroom use
Grants of $750 will be made annually in three categories: Community College Faculty, Community College Student, and K-12 Educator. For more information about the award and to submit a grant visit Stout Grants