Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: There’s a Map on My Lap


Introduction and Summary:
There's a Map on My Lap (All About Maps), written by Tish Rabe and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz, is a great book to use when teaching about geography.  The book, written in rhyme and illustrated with bright colors, provides a basic overview of many geography concepts including; maps, directions (NSEW), scales, legends and symbols.  One area the book does a particularly good job with is explaining the relationship between globes and maps.

"The map of the earth
that we use most of all
is a globe.  Like the earth,
it is round as a ball.
Peel the skin off an orange
and lay it out flat.
A flat map of the earth
would look something like that,” (pages 24-25).

Additionally, the author does an excellent job explaining different types of maps (topographical maps, dot maps, etc), and explaining why people use/need maps.

Fact boxes inserted throughout the text, including definitions of terms such as cartographer, longitude and latitude, are great items to share with students performing above grade level.

Curriculum Connections:
There’s a Map on My Lap (All about Maps) is appropriate for use in the kindergarten and first grade curriculums, when students are beginning their exploration of geography and maps.  At the kindergarten level, it could be used to satisfy standards involving the purposes of, and the relationship between, maps and globes.  (VA SOL k.4 -The student will use simple maps and globes to: A) develop an awareness that a map is a drawing of a place to show where things are located and that a globe is a round model of the Earth. VA SOL k.5-The student will develop an awareness that maps and globes:  B) show things in smaller size; C) show the position of objects).

Since the book also touches on the more advanced concepts of map symbols and cardinal directions, it could also be employed at the first grade level. (VA SOL 1.4-The student will develop map skills by: A) recognizing basic map symbols, including references to land, water, cities, and roads; B) using cardinal directions on maps).

Additional Resources:
-This worksheet is a great activity to use when teaching about cardinal directions.
-This is a fun, hands-on activity which helps familiarize students with maps.
-This worksheet is a great tool to use when teaching students about basic map symbols.
-This site provides two great ideas for activities (creating a classroom map and creating a treasure map).

General Information
There’s a Map on My Lap (All About Maps)
Author: Tish Rabe
Illustrator: Aristides Ruiz
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 41
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN: 0-375-81099-4