A giant map of South America filled half of the gym last week! Each year, National Geographic Giant Traveling Maps rents out a floor map of a continent to schools across the nation. The Minnesota Alliance for Geographic Education (MAGE) brings the traveling map to Minnesota schools. We had such great success with the map of Asia last year that our humanities teacher Melissa Andersen applied for a visit from the map of South America. Needless to say, as the Spanish teacher at FSM, I was thrilled to use this opportunity to connect what we are learning in Spanish class to this event.
Melissa and our phy ed teacher Linda Mockler picked up the large map after school last Tuesday and hauled it into our gym. I cannot thank them enough for their strength, time and efforts to make this happen for our students!
The map was spread out over half of our gym’s basketball court and came with a variety of materials and activities. Most of the activities were fun games that focused on geography skills such as people and places, latitude and longitude, and animals. It even included a Charles Darwin packet to accompany the Galapagos Islands.
For two days, every student in the school used time during Spanish and P.E. to interact with the map through age-appropriate physical activity and group games. Students were required to read a key and identify symbols on the map. Other skills we worked on were identifying borders, moving to lines of latitude and longitude, and figuring out where the super highways were centered in the continent. Linda had the kindergarten students moving like boats across the ocean from Europe and as airplanes from capital cities to other cities. We made human chains across the Andes mountains and we formed the Amazon river as a group. During the game of Simon Says, students were asked to play close attention to the political and physical features, symbols, and boundaries on the map.
My favorite part of the day was when my sixth graders made a human chain to move from capital to capital as a group during our “Rock the South American Capitals” song we have been practicing in Spanish class. I believe that several of my students have nearly memorized the names and locations of these countries and capitals from the song, and it has brought me great joy to see them singing, moving and using wonderful Spanish pronunciation on this state of the art map.
We played some relays in the with third and fourth grades and I let my middle school students take a “map nap” to some relaxing Tango music of Argentina. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience for us to have this wonderful map in our school. I cannot thank Melissa and Linda and all of my colleagues enough for the various schedule changes and logistical pieces that allowed things to run so smoothly. Thank you to parent Christa Ernst for helping with photography.
Sara Wayne, Spanish Teacher