Lesson Plan

Map Your Schoolyard

Students will use digital tools to create a map of their schoolyard.
Terrie M.
Classroom teacher
Boiling Springs High School
Boiling Springs, SC
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My Grades 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science

Students will be able to create and read a map that

  • ...is legible and aesthetic.   
  • ...has a scale and a compass rose.
  • ...has a legend to explain the meaning of different symbols and colors.
  • ...shows elevation through contour lines.
  • ...is used to navigate and create directions. 


Grades 11 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Google Earth Overview

Demonstrate the locations on Google Earth.    Explain the need for scale drawings and show students how to line up the location for a North view.  

2 Research

Teacher will provide written instructions to students.  

Teacher will assist the students with the activity.  

Teacher will provide additional materials:   paper, tape measure, colored pencils, rulers, scissors, etc.  

Advise students of revisions needed.  

Student Instructions

Map your Schoolyard

[Aerial photograph of Claremont School]

[Map of Claremont School and grounds]



A good way to learn about maps is to make and use a map of a familiar area. Maps are representations of an area as seen from above. Students then make maps of their schoolyard using Google Earth.   


Learning Outcomes

Maps are legible and aesthetic drawings of an area.
Maps have a scale and compass rose
Maps have legends to explain the meaning of different symbols and colors.
Maps can show elevation through contour lines
Maps can be used to navigate and create directions


Student Ipad, Wifi, Compass App, Google Earth App
Large paper for each pair of students
Tape measure (one for the class)
Colored pencils (or maybe crayons)

Time Requirements

3-4 class periods

Instructions and Rubric


Download Google Earth’s free App and a Compass free App.
Search for our school in Google Earth – 2251 Old Furnace Rd., Boiling Springs, SC 29316.
Use the image to create a small rough-draft of your school on plain 8X11 paper with a pencil.  This will help you decide which features are important and need to be included in your map legend.  Find features on your map: grass playing fields, blacktop play areas, buildings, surrounding roads, trees, bushes, play structures, sandboxes, or any other features that might be in your school yard.


Begin by drawing the tops of buildings. Only draw the tops, and not the sides because maps are what the world would look like if you were looking down from directly above it.
Color the buildings in a certain color.
Draw the outline of any grass playing fields. Color them green, or another color.
Draw other features that you see on the schoolyard, using different colors when you want to.
In the end, you should have a nice map of your school.


Every map has a legend -- this is the part of the map where you explain what each color means. For example, if you used green to indicate the color of grassy areas, draw a small green square at the bottom of your map and put the word "grass" next to the square.
Every map should indicate which way is north. Aerial photographs from the National Map are all rotated so that north is towards the top of the page. Draw a compass rose on your map to indicate north.
Every map also has a scale bar.  There is an easy and reliable way to determine the scale of the map of your school.

On your map, locate a feature in the schoolyard that will be easy to measure. For example, you can measure the tennis court, the width of a parking space, the length of a building, etc.  Go outside with your class and measure the length of that object with a tape measure. Return to the classroom and measure the length of the feature on your map using a ruler. To make the scale bar on your map, draw a rectangle the exact length as you measured with your ruler. The height of the rectangle doesn't matter. Above the rectangle, label the bar by writing the length of the feature in "real life " -- the length you measured with a tape measure outside on the schoolyard.

You can use your Compass Commander App to determine elevation.  Take several elevation readings around campus and place them on your map.  Connect the elevations with lightly drawn contour lines.
Now the fun begins! Use your map to create written directions that another pair of students can use along with your map to find an object – “Treasure Hunt”.



3 Small map creation

Activity: Drawing

Guide students in drawing their small map of the schoolyard.  

Give suggestions for completing the required elements. 

Check the small map for completion.  

Assign the large drawing upon correct completion of the small map.  

4 Creating Large Schoolyard Map with contours

Instruct and monitor students as they walk through the schoolyard together and gather the elevations of the map area.    This will be transferred to a large scale map with the contour lines being drawn.   

Display examples of contour maps.