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Students will Map a trip to a National Park in this lesson


Social Studies  


4, 5, 6  

Title – Mapping a U.S. Park Trip – National Park Mini-Unit Lesson 2
By – Amanda
Subject – Social Studies
Grade Level – 4-6

National Parks unit contents:

Unit: U.S. National Parks
Lesson #2: Mapping U.S. National Parks

Objectives: Students will:
— Create a United States map featuring a route to several National Parks they would like to visit
— Calculate approximate distances between the parks on their route using the map scale
— Describe states they will pass through and sites they will see on their trip.

— Locate and describe the major places of the nation
— Organize social science information to make a map
— Map Scale – a tool on a map that helps you measure distances between areas.


— Worksheet: United States Map
— Student Atlases or maps of United States, with national parks marked.
— Scrap Paper
— Colored pencils or pencils
— Transparency: Map of U.S. with Scale and overhead markers

Anticipatory Set:

“In Social Studies we have been learning about national parks. Over the last few days you made brochures about many of the national parks, and learned about them by reading the brochures. What are the names of some of the national parks we have learned about? (students respond and discuss) What parks do you think you would like to visit and why? (students respond and discuss)”

Objective and Purpose:

“In today’s lesson we are going to learn a new map skill – using the map scale to measure distances between places. This will help us to plan a trip around the United States to visit some of the national parks.”


“I will teach you how to use the map scale and we will practice it. Then, each of you will get a map of the United States to plan the route for your trip. You will also write a short travel log, in which you describe where you went and what you saw on your trip.”

Using an overhead projector and a transparency of the same U.S. map the students will use, I will demonstrate how to use the map scale to measure distances on a map. (Students will use index cards to mark the two places, then measure the distance against the map scale. I will then show how to bend routes to go around bodies of water and add the distances together. I will also explain that our distances will be approximate, because we are not following existing roads; therefore, in real life, the route would be a little different.

Check for Understanding and Guided Practice:

I will have the students mark Saginaw on their map. They will then be assigned the first park they will visit: Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Each student marks these places on their map using an atlas or printed out map. Then they will draw a straight line between these two places with a colored pencil, using a ruler. Students will then use their new map skill to measure and mark the distance. Students may work with each other and I will circulate the room to make sure each student understands the skill. Once each student has marked the first route on their map correctly, they may continue.

Closure and Independent Practice:

Now, students will choose at least three more parks and complete their map worksheet. For homework, they will write a travel log about their trip: Where they went, how far they traveled, and what they saw. To help them do this, they will use an information sheet they have made in yesterday’s lesson that contains facts about U.S. parks.

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