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Outdoor Geography

Can you identify a state or country from its outline? Are you able to fit the states or provinces of your country together? Try it outdoors—on a giant, colorful map!

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Organize students in a central location of the classroom such as the reading rug. Post a lightweight map of the United States. Ask students about the shape of their state or country. Does it have a distinctive border or an unusual shoreline? Do you know where key areas are located? Can you identify where you live? Allow time for discussion of the state or country's features and identifying markings.
    2. Distribute construction paper to each student and Crayola Washable Markers. Looking at the map, ask students to draw the state or country, focusing carefully on the identifying shape.
    3. Take students outside to the school's playground with their drawings. Find an acceptable area for students to create chalk images. Also take the lightweight map outside. Students draw their state or other area that is being studyied with Crayola Giant Sidewalk Chalk. Fill the space with color.
    4. Each student asks a classmate to draw and color a bordering geographic area with a different color. If drawing states, students will want to continually refer to the country's map.
    5. Continue mapping and filling the regions with color. See how much of the country or world can be reasonably drawn. Check on map details.
    6. Encourage students to add visual clues or words if necessary until they feel their map is identifiable.
    7. Challenge another class of students to view the sidewalk chalk map and identify states/countries.
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    LA: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Locate and distinguish among varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, and oceans.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: A Child's Introduction to the World: Geography, Cultures, and People - From the Grand Canyon to the Great Wall of China by Heather Alexander; Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton; A Child's Geography Explore His Earth by Ann Voskamp

    Encourage students to research the capital of each country, state, province. Additionally, students investigate the major landforms that are located in the geographic area. In addition to the name of the landform, students include information such as the level above or below sea level, etc.

    Why are countries, states, provinces shaped the way they are? Students investigate how borders were created.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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