1. Have you ever heard the story of Hansel and Gretel? Two children are left in the woods by their mean step-mother. She takes them far into the woods so they cannot find their way back home.
2. Hansel and Gretel tear off pieces of bread and throw it behind them. They did this so they could follow the bread crumbs back home.
3. There is one big problem already, and we haven’t even got to the evil witch yet. Animals live in the woods, and love to eat bread. A bird finds these breadcrumbs and eats them. When Hansel and Gretel are ready to go home, their trail is gone. If they had used real landmarks, they would be able to find their way home.
4. It is a good thing we have maps. A map is a picture that shows you where things are. Pirates used maps to find treasure. Explorers made maps as they discovered new lands. Your sister may have made a map that leads to her diary.
5. Maps can represent something as big as the world or something as small as a city. Every map is made up of a map title, map symbol, map key, distance scale, compass rose, and cardinal directions. These are the things that help you read the map.
6. The map title tells you what the map is about. If it is about your town then the title will be your town’s name. The map symbols are pictures that mean different things. The map key tells you what those things are. So if there is a symbol of a cross on your map the map key might say it is a church. Also, a picture of an airplane shows an airport.
7. The distance scale is used to help you measure how far it is between two places. The compass rose is a drawing that is made up of the four cardinal directions, north, south, east, and west.
8. Some maps are found on paper. Paper maps are being used less and less. The reason for this is many maps today are electronic.
9. The ones that are found on smartphones and GPS systems use a satellite to give the most up to date directions. Some of them even give you verbal directions with the map.
10. A map is a useful tool whether it is written or electronic. Just think how the story of Hansel and Gretel would have ended if they knew how to make a map of where they were going or where they had been.