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Map Skills

Lesson Details

Subjects: Social Studies, Art/Music
Learning Level: High School
Author(s): Ellen Fairbairn and Heidi Olivé
Submitted by:


Students who have difficulty visualizing the setting of WWI will benefit from this activity. Students will identify and label the nations, battlefields, general movement of German troops through Belgium, and the location of both fronts. They will have the ability to comprehend how formidable Germany was. It fought a two-front war for four years and nearly won, if not for the entry of the United States in 1917.

Lesson fundamental understandings:
Essential Questions:

Students will understand:
What significance does geography play in warfare? How does technology impact territorial acquisitions in any war? Is territorial control as important in modern times as it was in former periods in history?

Essential Questions:
1. How do political boundaries change as a result of warfare?
2. How do alliances determine the extent of warfare?
3. What means does a government utilize to aide in the human adaptation to a changed environment?


National Standards

Standard 2: Historical Comprehension: The student thinks chronologically. G.The students will be able to draw upon data in historical maps in order to obtain or clarify information on the geographic setting in which the historical event occurred, its relative and absolute location, the distances and directions involved, the natural and man-made features of the place, and critical relationships in the spatial distributions of those features and historical event occurring there.

State Standards

Standard 2.0: History Skills: Students will use social studies vocabulary and concepts to engage in inquiry, in research, in analysis, and in decision making. History 2.12.3 Analyze and inter-pret historical content from informational tools, including: · charts · diagrams · graphs · maps · political cartoons · photographs · tables 7.12.17 Describe the causes, course, character and effects of World War I, including: Imperialism, weapons/tactics 8.12.6 Describe the causes, course and effects of WWII, including the legacy of WWI. VISUAL ARTS: Knowledge Content Standard 1.0: Students know and apply visual arts media, techniques, and processes. 1.12.3 Create works of art that demonstrate an understanding of a variety of media, tools, techniques, and processes (e.g. traditional and emerging technologies). 2.12.4 Create artworks that manipulate visual characteristics to convey complex ideas. 5.12.3 Examine and evaluate a variety of techniques for communicating meanings, ideas, attitudes, views, and intentions.


Prerequisite Skills

This is lesson #3 of 6. 1. Students should have a basic understanding of map reading. 2. Students should have a basic understanding of how to read and create a map key. 3. Students will also be able to review spelling and abbreviation skills in the required for map labeling. 4. If the instructor is utilizing Internet resources the student should have basic computer skills also.

Teacher Information/Situations/Setting/Time

Time: The students will be given 1 day to complete the assignment.
Setting: A regular classroom environment is all that is necessary.
Materials: textbook worksheet map (blank) Note: Each instructor must create a listing of battlefields, color coding for Central and Allied nations, etc. to coordinate with the assigned text.
Enrichment activity: The Western front
Time: The activity will take 1 day.
Setting: A regular classroom environment; place desks in groups of four.
Grouping: Students will be placed in groups of four.
Materials: Provide 1 box of sand per group. (Box tops from school-supplied paper boxes are excellent for the project). Sand can be obtained from school track and field area. Students will be asked to supply plastic soldiers and military equipment purchased from local toy stores.


Any outline map may be used to complete this activity. A possible rubric for this activity would include the following items:
Map Skills Rubric: Labeling; 1-10 pts., Color Coding; 1-10 pts., Accuracy; 1-10 pts., Legend; 1-10 pts. (Extra category- Neatness; 1-10 pts.
Total points possible: 50

Student Activity/Tasks

Using an outline map of Europe representing the years 1914-1918, students should include the following information on their map:
all countries outlined in Europe:
Norway, Sweden, Russia,Germany, Austria-Hungary,Ottoman Empire,Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg,Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Africa.
Water Sources:
Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Somme River, Baltic Sea, Rhine River, Danube River, North Sea.
Important Locations:
Sarajevo,the Dardanelles, Tannenberg, Caproetto, Gallipoli, Verdun, Ypres,and an arrow that indicates movement of the Schlieffen plan.
After completing their outline map students should compare a map of Europe in the 1920's. Answer the following question: "What differences are there in your map and the map of Europe in the 1920's?"
Note to the instructor:
Ideally the map should include key battles, countries, political boundaries, water sources, and color coding to signify alliances.

Enrichment/Alternate Activity:

The following activities have been field tested and found to better enable students to visualize the cause and effect relationships of "trenchwarfare" and it's destructive long lasting effect on societies that utilize it. 1. Create a three dimensional sandbox with military figures and artillery to re-create trenchwarfare. 2.The students can better understand trench warfare and the area called "No Man's Land" if they build a three dimensional model of the Western Front. See the (A materials list for this activity is outlined above). Showing a video clip from the movie, All Quiet on the Western Front is useful for visual referencing of trench warfare.


English/Language Arts Architecture/Engineering Art (color coding, color representation) Math (scale dimensions)

Technology Requirements/Tools/Materials

Required list for regular activity:
colored pencils, magic markers, blank maps, teacher-generated direction sheet for the map

Materials list for enrichment activity:
Provide 1 box of sand per group. Box tops from school-supplied paper boxes are excellent for the project. Sand can be obtained from school track and field area. Students will be asked to supply plastic soldiers and military equipment purchased from local toy stores.


Suggested text: The American Nation, Prentice Hall, c. 1998.
Video: All Quiet on the Western Front, 1979 color version.
map sections

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