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Teaching First Grade Map Skills

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

When I taught first grade, it was difficult finding maps simple enough for my first graders. I wanted maps that didn't have twenty symbols, and where the symbols weren't tiny. It was hard! So I created some of my own, along with resources specifically for teaching first graders about Virginia state geography. Keep reading to learn more!


1. Read Simple Maps

First, I recommend "reading" simple maps together as a class. You can practice with this free online map and use these questions as a guide.These fun, simple maps engage give students practice interpreting maps. When "reading" a map, students will identify the map title, identify map symbols using the map legend, and describe the relative location of places on the map using cardinal directions.

2. Create Simple Maps

Next, let students create their own maps! At first, I give students symbols to cut and paste on map templates. Later in the unit, I will challenge them to create their own symbols. Then we incorporate writing by describing the location of places on the map. Students can present their map to the class or table group.

3. Virginia State Maps

If you teach in Virginia, you may also want to explore Virginia geography. I created a printable, interactive student book for this purpose. Students can write the name of their state, country, city, and region, write about why they like living in Virginia, and then color the Virginia state symbols. Check out the video below for a full preview!

How do you practice map skills with your first graders? I'd love to hear from you!


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