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  • Writer's pictureMegan

7th Grade Mapwork and History Enrichment ($0 +/-)

I can't count the number of times that I have the answer to a trivia question no one else can solve. "Where is (name of city, country, or landmark) located?" I can solve this thanks to years of mapwork. (Thanks, Mom!) Mapwork is a combination of history and geography and, sometimes, art. At the most basic, it is looking at a physical map and locating the places where things in the history topic happen. Step it up a notch and print an empty map for your student to label based on information in their text. The most complicated way is to purchase a set of maps designed for this, which are usually on lovely heavy paper and include a key to map symbols and a list of things they should label, which enable your student to make their own (theoretically beautifully artistic) maps with watercolors. I have a tween with an astonishing inability to know where her knees and elbows are, two cats, a dog, and a variety of very small children visiting my house. I can't have nice things.

A photo collage of blackline maps with student work in colored pencil.
Mapwork Examples

I do have a printer! So I head over to, find the area I need, and print off the "coasts, hydrography" map in the center of the top row. This map has the major bodies of water on it but doesn't include modern artifacts like roads or political borders. Then I write a post-it of what I think is important and away we go. Important things to label and/or add could be geographic features (mountain ranges and rivers), major cities, locations of battles, borders of empires, paths of invaders, and trade routes. I usually assign any place names that are mentioned in the spine chapter(s) for the week, plus geographic features.

If I want to emphasize how historical events set the stage for later problems, I print a map with modern political boundaries (called limits on d-maps) or slide the regular version of the map into a page protector and draw the corresponding modern conflict lines, etc. on the page protector in pen or sharpie.

History enrichment can help fill in a week that is light on reading content or just needs a bit of jazz in it. I have three favorite options

  1. Cooking a dish from the relevant culture - Some chapters of the SotW textbook talk about major crops, the spice trade, or food in a particular locale. That's my cue to find a recipe somewhere on the internet and incorporate it into our week.

  2. Finding a worksheet or unit on Teachers Pay Teachers - This can be just what I need in a stressful week or when I know there's going to be lots of waiting room or car time. There are so many options out there and many of them are free. If they aren't free, you earn store credit for writing reviews once you've used the material. My biggest pointer is not to drill down too far in the filters. Each author assigns (or not) their filter criteria and ticking off lots of boxes can artificially narrow your results.

  3. Assigning a research project - Somewhere, a student and a parent both groaned, right? This isn't that sort of research project. Use the acronym GRAPES (Geography, Religion, Achievements, Politics, Economy, Society) to structure the information; offer a tourist brochure, small poster, or slideshow as presentation options; and get out of the way. Dioramas are specifically disallowed. No materials may be purchased. The recycle bin and art supplies are fair game. Use of kitchen supplies must be approved - mostly to avoid expensive spices making their way onto a poster as examples. As long as I get a thoughtful project that includes all the GRAPES, the project is accepted. These are some of my favorite examples from 6th grade.

A photo of two creative research project presentations.  One is shaped like a magnifying glass.  The other is a brightly colored trifold poster.
Research Project Examples

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