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Activity #1: Introduction to Mapping
Maps are most often used to help us locate places. However, maps do much more than show us how to get from one place to another. They are also rich resources for learning about a place's history. You can discover a great deal of information about a community just from studying an old map. For instance, the types of businesses and cultural institutions that were part of a community, where individuals of that community lived, and even their ethnic backgrounds can often be determined just by studying an old map. You can also trace the growth and development of a community by comparing maps from different periods in a community's history.

  • Begin with a discussion about the various kinds of maps and how different maps reveal diverse information about an area.

    Sample questions:
    • What do we use maps for?
    • Why are there so many different kinds of maps?
    • What information can a map illustrate?
    • Could one map effectively display all of that information?

  • Using the Maps Graphic Organizer worksheet, indicate all of the different kinds of maps you encounter — look around your classroom, in your social studies text book, around your community, etc.

    Use the chart to answer the following questions:
    • What is the title of your map?
    • What does the map show?
    • What type of map is this?
    • In your opinion, how could the information on this map be helpful to a farmer?

  • Using a modern map of your town and an historical map from the primary sources section, list the similarities and differences between the maps. Use the Maps Venn Diagram worksheet to indicate what has changed and remained the same. Note: natural boundaries, county boundaries, and town names.