Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Maps101

Maps and more in this vast history, geography, and civics resource
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Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • Kids can also read news updates on geography.
  • Classroom resources for teachers include glossaries, lesson plans, and other activities.
  • A list identifies activities that correlate with Common Core Standards.
  • Map collections include antique maps, maps in Spanish, regional and other maps.
  • The site also offers several geography-themed games.
Pros
The variety of maps is outstanding, especially the interactive ones, which really help cement historical events, geographical trends, and other concepts.
Cons
Content is often presented in long lists, which may frustrate kids who aren't searching for a map with a specific keyword.
Bottom Line
A well-rounded selection of helpful classroom and research materials; better organization would help kids navigate the site with ease.
Erin Brereton
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Interactive maps provide facts and a unique perspective. Kids also can customize maps and print, save, or download them, and they can play games, take quizzes, and access other activities that will help hold their interest.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids can learn about geography, history, politics, earth science, and economics by viewing maps, videos, and other activities. Games reinforce historical facts and U.S. state locations; articles provide information.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

A Maps101 blog offers additional teaching resources; Common Core Standards plus state standards for Alaska, Georgia, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia are provided. Spanish content is included, as is a Hispanic-heritage section.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

You can illustrate geography and earth science lessons and use maps on topics like the Colonial Overseas Trade and the War of 1812 in history lessons. Bonus: There are Spanish versions of several activities for ESL students and a Hispanic heritage section.

You can also encourage kids to check out site elements on their own, but you may need to provide a little guidance to ensure lessons are clear. Several interactive maps, for example, include 90-second historical event summaries, which would be great for kids to review at home. One details 5,000 years of religion; students can see how different sects spread across the world. You can also distribute two-page geography skill-building worksheets that feature reading, graphics, and questions. However, you'll need to create your own answer key or email the site for a list of answers before grading the assignment.

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What's It Like?

Maps101 is a website that focuses on history, geography, civics, and earth science. The site also offers news updates, games, and activities on current events, women's history, and other topics. Teachers provide log-in information for kids to access the Maps101.com resource site, which was designed primarily for educators.

Kids can view, download, or print Maps101 maps, and K-12 teachers can use them as visuals in geography, history, politics, and economics lessons. The site, sponsored by map product provider Maps.com, features reference atlases, maps in Spanish, and activities for kids. Younger users in kindergarten through third grade can view very basic maps of continents, the solar system, and familiar places like their bedroom. The site also has lesson plans, a geography glossary, and other handy items for teachers.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Maps101 offers a number of interesting resources. Kids can view antique maps of more than 25 cities, Spanish-language continent and world maps, renditions that show mountains, rivers, and other landforms, and Congressional district maps. Some also touch on scientific subjects, such as annual deforestation rates.

In general, Maps101.com provides excellent materials for student research and educators' presentations. You'll find more than just maps: Geography articles and news items are posted once or twice a week, kids can take quizzes, and topic-based activity suggestions are available. You can also customize maps using the Map Sketch tool.

Resources are listed according to Common Core standards, which is a nice touch to help teachers find appropriate maps. Students, however, may have a slightly harder time navigating the site. Maps101 says it has more than 4,500 maps, lesson plans, articles, and other items; there's certainly no shortage of things to look at. However, individual pages tend to favor long lists, which don't always make it easy to scan and assess what's available. Breaking up content into smaller sections with subheads or extra pages would make the site’s substantial resources easier to find. The site is also on the pricey side, but if your school plans to use it within lots of classes, it can be worth it.

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