A map is like a bird's eye view of
a place taken from directly above. Typically, it will show the
roof tops rather than the walls and sides of buildings.
The use of a bird's eye view makes it easier
to get a quick overview of an area.
Most maps show physical features such
as rivers, lakes, mountains etc. These maps are called physical
maps. Maps can also represent man-made features such as towns,
cities, roads, railways etc. Maps can also show counties and
countries. These maps are called political maps. The boundaries
these maps show do not actually exist on the landscape. For example,
there is no actual line or boundary on the landscape dividing
one county or country from another. Political maps continue to
change and the political map of Europe has changed many times
over the last 100 years.
All maps require certain basic items
of information so that they can be read. These items include:
TITLE: Like any book, newspaper or
film a map needs to have an accurate title. Titles might include
"Political Map of Ireland" or "Physical Features
DIRECTION: In order to know which part
of the map points north, the person drawing the map must show
north on the map. Using this information, the person reading
the map can then be sure that they are reading the map correctly.
It also ensures that are not going south instead of north! Before
drawing a map, first of all, you have to establish which way
north is. The only real way to do this is by using a compass.
Once you have established which way north is, it is easy to work
out all of the other directions.
SCALE: Because a map is a representation,
it needs a scale so that all the features can be shown accurately.
For example, if a school building is 50 metres long and a nearby
house is 10 metres long, the map must show the house to be one
fifth of the length of the school if it is to be accurate. The
person drawing the map must decide on a scale - e.g. every metre
will be shown on the map as 1 cm. The bigger the scale the more
detail can be shown on the map.
SYMBOLS: Map makers often use symbols
on their maps. This makes it faster and easier for people to
read maps. For example, the map maker might decide to use a particular
symbol to indicate wet marshy ground or steep cliffs. Likewise,
different lines and colours are used to show railway lines, primary
and secondary roads. The use of different colours is also very
effective for showing heights. In this way, someone reading a
map can immediately see for themselves where the mountains are
and also get an idea of their heights (See Maps Today for some
1. Draw a simple map
of your desk. Give it a title, scale etc. Show simple objects
such as a copy and pencil case.
2. Now draw a more
detailed map of your classroom. Establish a scale and draw items
such as desks and the teacher's table using this scale. Remember
to show features such as windows and doors also.
2. Print out a blank
map of Ireland by visiting this website: www.wesleyjohnston.com