Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ancient Maps by 3rd Grade

I wrote this lesson a couple years ago and I really like it. I know some people who go full choice in their art rooms. Part of me really likes the idea of a choice-based art room, but a larger part thinks that kids really benefit from some guidelines in a project. Just personal preference. I've been working on ways of incorporating more choice within the framework of my projects. I think this lesson gives students a lot of freedom to display their creativity.

Essentially, we look at all kinds of older maps and talk about how they are different than current maps. Hint- they are WAY cooler. They are as much art as they are cartography. Oh, that's another cool part of this project. I get to say "cartography" and "cartographer" all the time. It makes me happy. 

Students then get to design their own map of a fictional place. I let students have pretty much complete freedom in the theme of their maps. Some choose to create maps of video game worlds, some map out locations from a favorite book or tv show, and others just completely freestyle. I ask that they include both water and land, a title, a compass rose, and a map key. Additionally, I ask them to include at least six landforms. Parts of maps are part of the 3rd grade social studies curriculum in Ohio and landforms are in the curriculum for 4th grade. 

I really like the results I get out of the project. It's fun to sit and study the small details that students put into their work. I have learned a couple of things over the years to make the project run a little smoother. Liquid watercolor works very well for painting the water. It's easy to prep and I'm not constantly replacing the blue in my watercolor trays. It's also a lot more consistent in terms of color. I also have students add color to map details with colored pencils. It's just a lot neater than the results I got the first year with watercolor. 

Click here to download my lesson plan!

Click here to download the handout I put together to help students with this project!
Beautiful details from the map above!

Detail of "burned" map edges. Wet on wet watercolor tricks!

Were you wondering what a fairy unicorn princess looks like? Wonder no more!

Great example of a map with mostly land. 


Hope Hunter Knight said...

These look cool! After one of the Pirates of the Carribean movies came out years back, we did some treasure maps but we did crayon batik and they were kinda hard to read after. I like your technique much better.

Maryellen said...

Hey Zach, these are really cool! And, your map handout is awesome. Great work, all!

Jack said...

Love your lesson plans. This one is great. I think I will try this out with my third graders. Might have to talk about sea monsters and the edge of the world. I like how you tied in land forms, and your burnt edge technique. What paper did you use?

Zach Stoller said...

Thanks everyone!
Jack- I used 90# all-purpose drawing paper. In fact, I use it for all of my painting projects.

Doodles Academy said...

I really love this project; I am a strong advocate for choice in the artroom, but there are so many different positions one can take that are between TAB and Guided Drawing, that isn't really as simple a statement as it seems. I think this project does an excellent job of framing the project without overly leading the project; the students had lots of space to create their own stories.

Really nice job--I've pinned it and am sure I will be doing some version of it. I've thought about doing an 'memory map' before where students design a map that somehow indicates various memories that they have had and where, but have never been quite sure about how to round that into an actual lesson. This might help! Thinking of those map keys....(anyway...thanks!)