Resources for Teachers

Grade 3-5: Geography

General Geopraphy|| Geologic Maps|| Map Tools|| Satellite Images|| Topographic Maps

General Geography

Corn Maze Geography - Activites
Visit a corn maze and use these activities to learn about maps and geography.  

Landsat Satellite Image Puzzles from USGS Earth Resources Observation Science (EROS) Center
Download and print a spectacular free image of your state created by combining satellite imagery with the National Elevation Dataset data.

Printable Outline Maps of States (plus reference maps and more!) - Maps
Download hundreds of reference maps for individual states and for all of the United States. These are specifically designed to print on 8.5"x11" paper for classroom use. Includes unlabeled outline maps of the U.S. Formerly available on the National Atlas website.

Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change - Photos
Earthshots is an e-book of before-and-after Landsat images (1972-present), showing recent environmental events and introducing the concept of remote sensing. Each set of images includes a detailed description, photographs and maps, a list of references, and a question/answer. Images are best used on-line.

Learn about Landsat from the USGS Earth Resources and Observation Science (EROS) Center's Education Page
What does Earth look like from space and what can we learn from photos taken over time?

Topographic Maps

Constructing a 3D Topographic Map - Activity
This exercise uses clear plastic take-out lids, each marked with a different elevation line, and stacked to produce a 3D topographic map. It includes a base map of Angel Island (San Francisco Bay) but can be adapted to any local topographic feature.

Topographic Map Resources for Teachers - Background Information
An overall summary of useful USGS resources for working with topographic maps: where to get them; how to interpret them; how to use them; explanations of coordinates, datums, and projections; and lessons for the classroom.

Free Digital USGS Topographic Map Quadrangles - Maps
Download free USGS topographic map quadrangles in georeferenced PDF (GeoPDF) format by clicking on "Map Locator" on the USGS Store Web site. These files were created using high-resolution scans and average 10-17 megabytes in size.

27 Ideas for Teaching with Topographic Maps - Activities
Contains 27 ideas for teaching with the approximately 57,000 topographic maps that the USGS offers.   

Map Mysteries - Activities
Sample questions to use with USGS topographic and thematic maps as starting points to uncover mysteries about the cultural and physical geography of the Earth.

Corn Maze Geography- Activities
Visit a corn maze and use these activities to learn about maps and geography.

Topographic Salad-Tray Model - Lesson
This basic activity-oriented lesson helps students understand a topographic map by creating a three-dimensional model from contours on a topographic map.   

Map Symbols - Background Information
An explanation of topographic maps and map symbols.

Map Tools

Education Map Catalog- Background Information
Browse samples of USGS maps that are popular with educators. Order paper copies through this site. Where available, links are provided to pdf versions that can be freely downloaded. (Navigate to this site on your own by going to the USGS Store and clicking on "Education Products")    

Printable Outline Maps of States (plus reference maps and more!)- Photos
Download hundreds of reference maps for individual states and for all of the United States. These are specifically designed to print on 8.5"x11" paper for classroom use. Includes unlabeled outline maps of the U.S. Formerly available on the National Atlas website.

Geologic Maps

Tapestry of Time and Terrain- Map
Shaded relief and geology are combined on this map of the 48 conterminous states. It is a useful resource for discussing physiographic provinces and for viewing the location of rocks deposited during different geologic time periods. Download a PDF version or purchase a paper wall-size version through the USGS Store. This is one of the most eye-catching maps produced by the USGS.

Geologic Map of North America- Map
Click on "Map Images" (icon that looks like a framed picture) to download a map and explanation sheet for the Geologic Map of North American at different resolutions.