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Treasure Map

Students create their own treasure maps using topographic symbols and a directional compass.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Organize students into small groups. Invite them to investigate map making, how land is portrayed, water, and what symbols are used to communicate what to expect in a region. Students determine how they would like to portray their treasure maps. Cut open a recycled grocery bag with Crayola® Scissors.
    2. Provide student groups with recycled grocery bags and Crayola® Scissors. Students cut open the bags and plan on using the blank side of the bag to make their imaginary Treasure Map. Draw the area's outer boundaries with Crayola Construction Paper Crayons. Create a bird's-eye view. Include landscape details such as mountains and rivers. Create personal symbols for the map if so desired.
    3. Use a white crayon to make a dotted line to draw a path to the treasure.
    4. Draw a compass rose in a corner of the map to show the orientation of directions.
    5. Students cover work areas with recycled newspaper. Use Crayola Watercolors and Brushes to color forests, water, and other landscape details. While the paper is still damp, crumple it.
    6. After a few minutes, flatten the paper. Tear around the edges to create an aged look for your Treasure Map.
    7. Provide time in the school day for student groups to present their treasure maps to small groups of classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal contrast, addition, and other logical relationships

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Represent and interpret data.

    MATH: Classify two-dimensional figures into categories based on their properties.

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

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

  • Adaptations

    As an introduction to this lesson, organize a treasure hunt in the classroom. Compose directions, make use of a compass, and hide surprises, or treasures, for students to locate. After the activity, as students to discuss what may have been the purpose(s) for the activity.

    Encourage students to work collaboratively to chart topographic symbols and include a brief explanation for each symbol. Discuss where they may have seen these symbols in their previous symbols with maps.

    There is a significant list of vocabulary terms associated with topographic maps, such as surface, shape, longitude, latitude, elevation, geology, geography, terrain, contour lines, etc. Students may choose to create a crossword puzzle for these and other terms associated with this lesson and include definitions for each term.

    Students create a study guide on maps using the treasure hunt format. Write instructions related to each study question. Teams take turns answering the questions. Correct answers get one hint toward finding the treasure.


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