- Sponsorship -

Map-making a fun way to learn about Michigan

From sand dunes and mountains to plateaus and farm land, and from cars to copper, Michigan has it all. Ask a Kent City third-grader if you want to know more.

Recent lessons In Monica Moore’s classroom included studying the shape of both the upper and lower peninsulas, natural resources and major industries found in the state, landform descriptions, locating cities and bodies of water including the four Great Lakes surrounding Michigan.

“This activity is a culminating task for the unit in geography,” said Moore. “We have studied all of these different locations, maps, etc., and not we are putting all of that new knowledge together in a presentation. One of the standards in our curriculum states that students will give an oral presentation, so this is a fun way to do that.”

Ulisa Floras points out the Muskegon River on her Michigan map

Map of my own

Students were sent home with a checklist of items expected on their finished project, but then were on their own. Actual map-making was left to individual creativity. Mitten shapes were constructed from or drawn on cardboard boxes, presentation poster board, wooden frames or construction paper.

Each mapmaker chose what he or she wanted to highlight. With a requirement of two different kinds of bodies of water, not including the Great Lakes, some chose nearby rivers, such as the Rogue, and local lakes including Long Lake, close to where they live. Many of the maps showed Grand Rapids and suburbs to the north, most included Detroit and all identified the state capitol in Lansing.

Some made topographical maps with added details such as artificial greenery, rivers constructed from blue pipe cleaners, forests made of sticks and one sported a small metal car glued firmly near Detroit.

“I am always surprised by how much effort is put into these projects and how amazing they turn out to be,” Moore said. “Students are so creative, and it is awesome to see that presented in this way.”

Third-grader Diago Juarez-Resendiz is proud of his finished product

Demonstrating New Knowledge

Oral presentations confirmed that map-making leads to new found knowledge, Moore said. “I love seeing how much they can now tell about Michigan after this unit. It shows all the areas they never knew about before.”

Lydia Bulliss. said she has been across the Big Mac many times, “but I never knew that Lake Michigan was on one side and Lake Huron on the other.”

Bryan Gomez was “surprised that there were so many cherries in Michigan. I knew about the apples, but there are lots of cherries too.”

“I really didn’t know that you could find copper in Michigan,” said Aiden Kamphuis.

Added Samantha Oberg: “Plateaus are flat lands and they are in all parts of the world, not just Michigan.”

Both Sebastian Barera-Villa and Tristan Wilson said they found it interesting that there are sand dunes all around the edge of Michigan.

Some students learned that islands are also part of the state. “I really didn’t know that there was an island right there,” said Kendrix Nelson, pointing to Mackinac Island, “and you can only get to it by ferry.”

- Sponsorship -
Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst is a reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.


Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

At-home learners stay connected through a new resource

In late October, Kent City Elementary opened a designated room to give families who have chosen virtual education extra resources and support...

Mapping the road to learning

Elementary teachers Billie Freeland and Nicole Andreas are at the forefront of using a curriculum designed to further educational goals, regardless of whether students are in person or online...

Homecoming, modified

The coronavirus pandemic has forced school districts to make changes to the ways they celebrate some annual traditions...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU