Making your own atlas

 Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography content descriptions addressed in the illustration are:

  • The representation of Australia as states and territories, and Australia’s major natural and human features (ACHGK014)
  • The many Countries/Places of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples throughout Australia (ACHGK015)
  • The similarities and differences between places in terms of their type of settlement, demographic characteristics and the lives of the people who live there (ACHGK019)

 Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Learning goals

The illustration-specific learning goals are:

  • understanding the relationships between the patterns of natural and human features on maps of Australia
  • developing knowledge of the names and locations of states, territories, cities, rivers, plains and mountain ranges in Australia
  • observing a map of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groupings
  • recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' deep relationship to their place.

Geographical understanding and context

Maps of places on the earth's surface at a range of scales and with a variety of themes are some of the key resources and products of geography. This illustration helps students develop their knowledge about places and spaces in Australia in a practical hands-on approach by making their own 'mini atlas'.

By choosing the particular maps they want to include, each child can be encouraged to look at atlas maps with a purpose in mind. In this way the variety of maps available can be appreciated. There are other decisions to be made about what information to include on each map. All of this promotes both critical and creative thinking.

Teaching approaches

Familiarity with maps of Australia is the central focus of this activity. It could be organised as an ongoing activity throughout a part of the year, or as a stand-alone learning experience.

1. Planning and research 

Talk to the students about the idea of each of them making a small book which is to be their own version of an atlas of Australia. Discuss with them what they would like to include. They will need to look at examples of different atlases from the school library, and also electronic atlases on computers, laptops, iPads or tablets.

2. Developing table of contents

When they have looked at atlases and discussed the project, help them to construct an individual table of contents for their atlas.

Maps that might be included are:

  • physical map of Australia showing main mountain ranges and rivers
  • map of the state borders and names
  • settlement map showing the state capitals and other large cities
  • more detailed map of their own state or territory
  • large-scale map of the particular part of the state or territory where they live
  • map of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language names and regions for the area near where they live (see resource list)
  • picture map of Australia where photographs cut from magazines or websites are glued onto a blank map of Australia in the correct locations.

The outline for Australia or their state and home regions might be provided from websites listed in the 'Resources' section below.

3. Looking for patterns

While the atlases are being assembled, discussion of some of the patterns is useful. Topics to talk about include:

  • differences in size between the states
  • main landforms such as the Great Dividing Range, deserts
  • main rivers and the large areas without rivers
  • areas without any cities or large towns
  • regions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

Ask the children to write sentences about these points.

They could also be asked to develop a list of questions and answers which could be obtained from the maps.

4. Extension activities

Extension activities could be developed for particular students or groups, for example:

  • children may have ideas for other maps that they could include
  • some children might talk to the class about the things they have learned about their country from making this atlas
  • some children might want to go further afield and make another atlas of places of importance or interest to them.

What you need

Sample atlases.

Electronic atlas apps such as World Map for iPad, or Oxford Atlas.

Sheets of paper that can be stapled or fastened.

Preparation: Either sheets of paper stapled into a booklet (or ready to be stapled) are needed. 

Time frame: Could be spread over a few weeks to allow short bursts of activity interspersed by thinking and research.

Curriculum connections

This illustration links with the content descriptions of the following Phase 1 Australian Curriculum.

English

  • Listen to and contribute to conversations and discussions to share information and ideas and negotiate in collaborative situations (ACELY1676)
  • Plan and deliver short presentations, providing some key details in logical sequence (ACELY1677)

Mathematics

  • Create and interpret simple grid maps to show position and pathways (ACMMG065)
  • Collect data, organise into categories and create displays using lists, tables, picture graphs and simple column graphs, with and without the use of digital technologies (ACMSP069

Science 

  • Use a range of methods including tables and simple column graphs to represent data and to identify patterns and trends (ACSIS057)
  • Earth's rotation on its axis causes regular changes, including night and day (ACSSU048)

History

  • Locate relevant information from sources provided (ACHHS068)
  • Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies (ACHHS071)

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Resources

Books:

Johnson, S. (2010). Beginning geography. Monterey: Evan-Moor Educational Publishers. This book contains 93 reproducible activity pages, which could be used as they are, or used to give you ideas of further activities and learning. 

Websites:

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). Australian Curriculum: Geography. Retrieved May 2013, from: www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Geography/Rationale

World Maps Online. This website has a number of lesson plans for map and globe skills. It is a USA-based website. Retrieved August 2012, from: http://www.worldmapsonline.com/LESSON-PLANS/table-of-contents-lesson-plans.htm

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. The web page Aboriginal Australia map includes a map of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' language names and groupings. Retrieved August 2012, from: www.aiatsis.gov.au/asp/map.html.

Outline maps can be obtained from:

Geography. Retrieved August 2012, from: http://geography.about.com/library/blank/blxaustralia.htm

Pearson Atlas. Retrieved August 2012, from: http://wps.pearsoned.com.au/pearsonatlas/50/12861/3292551.cw/index.html

d-maps.com. Retrieved August 2012, from: http://d-maps.com/carte.php?num_car=4871&lang=en

All other required resources are listed in the 'What you need' section above.