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Brief Description

Students apply geography skills to create a map of an imaginary country. Included: Connections to every area of the curriculum!


Students will
  • work in small groups to list features and elements found on a variety of grade-appropriate maps.
  • develop a class list of map features and elements to draw from as they create a map of an imaginary country.
  • include all the required elements in their maps.
  • complete extension activities as directed.


map, imagine, imagination, country, political, natural resource, landform, river, mountain, map key, biome, geography, measure

Materials Needed

  • drawing paper
  • art supplies
  • a variety of maps from textbooks and/or other sources

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students use the geography skills they have developed to create a map and related materials for an imaginary country. This lesson might be done in a couple of class sessions or it can extend for weeks by incorporating many areas of the curriculum, including

  • math -- students include a distance measurement key on their maps or create a currency for their country.
  • science -- students include at least two different biomes on their country map or map the weather conditions on a recent day.
  • language arts -- students create a brochure or a TV commercial to promote travel to their imaginary country.

Depending on the grade and skill level of your students, the lesson might also incorporate different types of maps, including

  • political maps -- showing the country capital and large cities, states, or counties
  • physical maps -- showing the wide range of landforms in the country.
  • color key maps -- showing average temperature, population density, elevations
  • natural resource maps -- showing locations of centers of agriculture, manufacturing, education

This lesson has unlimited possibilities. Decide in advance how you plan to proceed. The lesson below offers a basic framework that is easy to adapt.

Before you begin the lesson, collect a variety of maps that students will be familiar with. (The maps will vary according to your grade level and curriculum.) Arrange students into small groups. Challenge each group to look over a variety of maps and make a list of the elements that comprise those maps. Students lists will begin with elements such as countries, capitals, boundaries Give students 10 minutes to complete this part of the activity. Then gather as a class to share lists and make a class list of map elements.

If students did not include landforms on their lists, direct them to think in those terms. Ask: What different types of landforms do you see on the maps? Add landforms -- such as rivers, mountains, deserts, and islands to the list.

For additional landform ideas, you might refer to online resources such as
Landform Glossary
Landforms List
Landforms and Definition List
Landform (Wikipedia)

You might also talk about other elements that appear on maps if students have not already mentioned them and if they are appropriate for your grade level. Those elements might include a compass rose, map keys, and a scale of miles.

When the list is complete, you might use a word processing program to type up the list as a resource for students as they do the activity.

Now you are ready to introduce the main thrust of the lesson: Tell students that they are going to create a country of their own! The first thing they need to do is create a map of the new country. Develop a list of required elements for the students maps; the list should be based on grade-appropriate geographic knowledge and should be drawn from the students brainstormed list of map elements. If you want a rubric students can use to make sure they include all the required elements, you might assign a score to each element and ask students to make sure their elements add up to 100 points. Tell students to name their countries, as well as the cities and major landforms in their countries. The following list can serve as an example of a rubric a fourth grade teacher might provide for students:

  • compass rose -- 5 points
  • country boundaries -- 5 points
  • country name -- 5 points
  • capital city -- 5 points
  • five cities -- (2 points for each city) 10 points
  • scale of miles -- 10 points
  • landforms -- (at least five different ones, five points each) 25 points
  • icons to show five natural resources found in the country -- 5 points each (25 points)
  • neatly color the map -- 10 points

Adapting the Lesson
As mentioned previously, this lesson can be adapted in many, many ways; it can include any area of the curriculum and involve many skills you might be teaching. In addition to the lesson adaptations listed above, here are a few more activity ideas:

  • Create a fact sheet or an almanac page for the imaginary country. This sheet might present a wide variety of information and statistics about the country. As an example, share with students the World Factbook. Select a country from the drop down menu at the top of the page and see the kinds of information that might be included in each students country fact sheet.
  • Create graphs to show information related to the imaginary country (for example, populations of the largest cities, population or income growth over the last century, or value of goods produced by major industries). Students can use art supplies to create colorful graphs, or they might use graphing software or the online Create a Graph tool.
  • Write brief interviews with citizens from different parts/cultures within the country.
  • If graph plotting and scale of miles skills are taught at your grade level, students can create their maps on graphing paper.
  • Invent a currency for the country and create a chart to show equivalencies between the countrys currency and U.S. dollars.
  • Hold a culture fair in which each student shares her or his map with the class and tells about some of the cultural elements of the countrys people.


Students will include all the required elements in their maps of imaginary countries.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts

  • GRADES K - 4

  • NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.K-4.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
  • GRADES 5 - 8

  • NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.5-8.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
  • GRADES 9 - 12

  • NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
  • GRADES Pre-K - 2

  • NM-MEA.PK-2.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
  • GRADES 3 - 5

  • NM-MEA.3-5.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
  • GRADES 6 - 8

  • NM-MEA.6-8.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
  • GRADES 9 - 12

  • NM-MEA.9-12.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
MATHEMATICS: Communications
  • GRADES Pre-K - 12

  • NM-COMM.PK-12.1 Organize and Consolidate Their Mathematical Thinking Through Communication
    NM-COMM.PK-12.2 Communicate Their Mathematical Thinking Coherently and Clearly to Peers, Teachers, and Others
MATHEMATICS: Connections
  • GRADES Pre-K - 12

  • NM-CONN.PK-12.1 Recognize and Use Connections Among Mathematical Ideas NM-CONN.PK-12.3 Recognize and Apply Mathematics in Contexts Outside of Mathematics
MATHEMATICS: Representation
  • GRADES Pre-K - 12

  • NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas
    NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

See more geography lesson plans and resources in Education Worlds Geography Center.

Click to return to Map Lessons: The Route to Improved Geography Skills.

Originally published 11/08/2002
Last updated 11/26/2009


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