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Summer Brain Games

Experiment: Make a Map

We use maps to get around our cities. We also use them to record information in a visual form. Can you make a map of a place that is important to you? 

Instrucciones en Español


Pencil or other writing utensil
Graph paper (PDF)
An area or place that you will map
Measuring device
Coloring pencils, markers, and/or stickers (optional)


  1. Choose your space. What do you want to put on your map? Choose a special place in your home. Or choose the area around a favorite place in your neighborhood. Your map will help people get to different spots within the area you’ve chosen.
  2. Survey your space. Make observations and measurements of the space you are mapping and write them down. Use a standard unit of measure like feet or meters. You can also use a part of your body like your hand, or an object like a stick. You could even count your steps.
  3. Decide on a scale. Scale helps us make a map of an entire city fit onto one sheet of paper. One box on the graph paper should equal a certain number of units. For example, one box on the graph paper could equal two of your feet. Make sure to show the scale on your map.
  4. Measure the distance between different landmarks in your space. Pay special attention to the different ways people could move through your space, for example: hallways in your house, paths in your yard, sidewalks and streets, bus stops and train stations.
  5. Draw your map! Start with an outline of your space. Pick an edge or corner of your space and start at the edge or corner of your graph paper.
  6. Add landmarks to your map. What are the things and places you use to keep track of where you are?
  7. Add color and get creative with how your map looks. Some maps use realistic colors, while others use colors or symbols (called icons) to represent other things. If you use colors or symbols, include a map key. For example, blue spaces are places where I sleep and purple spaces are where I play. Or use symbols: a drawing of a book represents a library and a paw print is a dog park.
  8. Did you make a map of a space in your house? Try a Treasure Hunt Challenge! Turn your map into a treasure hunt for your family or friends. Hide a small treasure in any space, now create a map to the treasure!
  9. Did you make a map from your house to a special place? Try a Find Your Way Challenge! Give your family or friends your map and a set of directions. Can they follow your directions and figure out how to get to different places on your map?

What’s Happening?

Maps can give us a lot of information about roads, buildings and distances. They help us figure out how to get from place to place. Maps also tell us what we can find in our neighborhoods and cities like schools, homes, restaurants, libraries, grocery stores and parks.

Could you imagine carrying around an actual size map of your city or the United States? That would be impossible—it would be way too big! The scale on a map is a proportion (or ratio) that makes distances easier to see. Different maps call for different scales. For example, one inch on a map of your room could equal one yard in your house, but one inch on a map of the United States could equal 500 miles. What other scales could you make?



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