Lesson Ideas

Constructivist Map Making

Have learners create and annotate a map about a given domain. Each location should include a link to further information so that the map becomes a gateway to a rich pool of data. For example:

  • Locations in a novel (See Atlas of Fiction)
  • Battlefields during a given war.
  • Addresses of luminaries in a given field.
  • Postcards of the past
  • Neighborhood architecture or flora
  • Field trip followup
  • Walking tour creation: develop an itinerary through a small space by identifying important stopping points and describing each one. Could be implemented with GPS clues as well.

Geospatial Analysis

Provide a mapped set of markers and ask learners to grapple with questions that are illuminated by thinking of them in the context of place.

  • Where was the action in the world of 19th century painting?
  • Where do cities spring up?
  • Why are schools more successful in some places than in others. (Using this map in conjunction with the census data overlay in Google Earth).
  • What kinds of plants do you see in different locations around the world. (Use the Degree Confluence site, or perhaps TripperMap.)
  • How big are things? Imagine that the Great Pyramid of Giza was moved to your school parking lot. Take us on a tour while pointing out the features of this imaginary new arrival.

Scientific Prediction

Provide access to near real-time data and have learners propose theories that explain changes or movements that can be traced on a map. Continue to monitor the data to test the theory.

  • Which way will that whale turn next?
  • Will the water temperature at that buoy be warmer or cooler next week?

Place Knowledge

Though it's not at the top of Bloom's Taxonomy, it's important for people to know what's where. These tools can provide motivation to learn names and locations and more.

  • Create a class travel bug and track its movements on a map.
  • Write a travel account from the point of view of your travel bug.


Board games are inherently spatial. Can you take some of the structures of an established board game and overlay them onto the earth? Novice/younger learners could learn by simply playing such a game. Expert/older learners could be tasked with inventing a game. See GPSGames.org for ideas.

  • Combine the game of Go with the Degree Confluence Project in some way. You get to put your marker on a given confluence point by identifying some theme or characteristic it has with adjacent points?
  • Create an invisible version of a race game (games that have a track that one moves along) and overlay it on a walkable space. Put clue cards and directions at key points.



© 2006 - Bernie Dodge. Write for permission to use elsewhere.