What You See Isn't What You Get: Perspective In Mapping

Students will observe objects in their everyday environment and use symbolic pictures to show the objects in relation to each other. Students will also compare horizontal and aerial views of these same objects.

Time Duration: Two 50-minute class periods

Grade Level: 4-5

Concepts Explored:
observation, interpretation of data, recording and symbolic representation

desktop or work surface, lunch materials, paper, pencils and crayons, straight edge or ruler

Mapping is an activity that allows students to make a transfer from the reality of objects and locations close at hand to larger areas that cannot be seen from the ground. A further extension of these activities involves examination of aerial photographs of a particular area. Sources of these photographs might be local television stations, newspapers or historical societies. Developed tract homes may have had house plans or street maps filed with the city government building departments. Emergency agencies have detailed maps which may include fire hydrants, water main sources etc.


Day 1 -
Ask students to examine the contents of their lunches. Students who do not have lunches may work with those students who have lunches. (Alternatively, ask each student to bring from home an everyday item such as a toothbrush, a hair brush, a salt shaker, a glass, etc.) Arrange items and observe and compare from a horizontal perspective and aerial perspective. Let students practice describing objects to each other to identify characteristics of the objects from the different viewpoints. Students then generate their own sketches and label objects from the two perspectives. Key concepts to be introduced are spatial reasoning and an evaluation of the most accurate perspective.

Day 2 -
Review the horizontal and aerial perspective from the previous lesson. Students can be divided into groups to view the room from different locations. Some students may be outside viewing the interior through windows. Their sketches can then be displayed and compared. As in activity one, students then need to produce an aerial perspective of the entire classroom. Discussion can focus on correct representation of such features as windows and doors and the architectural floor plan symbols can be explored.

Other possibilities for student maps are maps of bedrooms, homes, routes to grocery stores or malls, neighborhoods, nearby parks or amusement parks. Students can also map journeys taken by literary characters in stories such as Goldilocks' trip to the home of the three bears, or the journey of the wolf in the Three Little Pigs.

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