Choosing a Wall Map

In my last post, I explained how I came to rely on three simple tools to teach geography to my young children. Now, I will explain the first tool – wall world maps. In my next posts, I will explain the other tools (globe and geography songs) and lastly, how I use them.

I use three simple tools to teach geography:

  1. World map
  2. Globe
  3. Geography Songs for Everyone CD (watch videos free here or buy MP3s here)

Tips for Selecting a World Map

  • Check the dimensions before you order a map online. I nearly ordered an 8′ map before I realized its size. Oops.
  • Make sure the map is up to date. South Sudan is the newest country, so I usually check that first. As I write, Swaziland is changing its name to eSwatini. I’m not sure if the change will extend to maps, but I suspect it will.
  • Wall world maps should be large so that more than one person can explore or hunt for something at the same time. I have friends with maps over six feet wide. That’s amazing, but I don’t have the space. Mine are usually about 4 feet wide or so.
  • Hang the map near the floor so that it can be accessed by all students.
  • Decide whether you want a political map (with country names), or physical (with landforms). Some maps have a little of both, but no map can have everything. In general, the younger the student the fewer the details. A preschooler may benefit from a continents-only map, but a middle schooler could manage a political/physical combo that even includes minor cities and road.

My World Maps

I have used an assortment of world maps over the years. Each one has hung in our family room so that it can be easily referenced. I currently have a laminated wall map attached to the wall. It’s durable and works well. I used to have a paper version, but of course, that ripped. I suspect I could use white board markers on the laminated version, which is cool.

Before this map, I had a Discovery Kids felt map that only highlighted the continents.This was perfect for preschoolers because it couldn’t rip, didn’t overwhelm them, and it came with adorable felt animals. I would distribute the animals, ask the student to name an animal and tell me which continent it lived on. Then, they could smack it against the map and it stayed. So fun. I ended up make little felt versions of the children too so they could travel around. I’ve had it for years and I still hang it from time to time. The kids think it’s so fun.

Once my children graduated from continents, we learned the countries of the world. Their strong knowledge of continents was helpful because when a country was introduced through a book, let’s say, I could tell them what continent it was on and they understood that many different countries were on each continent.

Other Map Ideas

In choosing a map for your home or classroom, think about the age of your students and how you plan to use the map. I’ve listed below other world wall maps (that I fantasize about getting one day) that you could use as a reference. These are Amazon affiliate links. I post the prices at Amazon for all these items at the bottom of the post, but if you are budget conscious, be sure to shop around.

Laminated Map for Young Students

This is a great map for young students. It’s laminated, therefore somewhat durable. It colors only the continents so it doesn’t overwhelm the student. And what makes this map great is that the countries are still outlined and shaded, offering a kind of introduction to countries, and of the animal pictures to make it a little more interesting.

Scratch Off Map

This is a scratch-off map, and quite a handsome one at that. If the idea of a giant, brightly colored poster in your house upsets your aesthetic sensibilities, this may be a good fit. It also comes in silver.

Combo Political/Physical Map

This map is quite pretty. It combines political and physical geography. Close up, you can see it includes mountain ranges, as well as major and minor cities, and roads that link them. This is best for an older student.

Wall Decals

This is so cute and great for someone with a young child and who actually decorates their house. It comes in a ton of different colors. It highlights continents and pictures related to each area, so it would be appropriate for a little one.

Scratch Off with Flags

I am in love with this map. It’s a scratch off map, but colorful and it includes flags! My son loves flags. Very cool. Definitely for a slightly older student.

Giant Maps

I love the idea behind these giant maps. I’ve seen them up to 9 feet by 6 feet, but I’m sure you can get them even bigger. These are placed on a wall – a big, bare, windowless wall, so I don’t know how practical this is for most people. I have a friend with a giant map like this that hangs in her hallway. While it may not be used for regular instruction, it certainly captures attention whenever someone is walking through the house and I’m sure is very effective. Even I can’t help browsing as I walk by.

Cultural World Map

This map does not emphasize countries, but rather cultural and natural distinctions between different regions of the world. This makes sense for any teacher wishing to add cultural context to the memorization of countries and capitals. This particular map had mixed reviews, particularly in the durability of the product, but if you’re careful or mount the product it seems to work well. I include this in my list because I appreciate its unique contribution to geography studies.

Happy hunting for your next great wall map. Share your favorite wall maps in the comment section!

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