Ways to Use a World Atlas in Different Lessons

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

How do you use a world atlas? Do you use it when you are teaching/learning geography? Are there other ways to use it? Today I am sharing with you the 6th Edition of National Geographic Kids World Atlas. And I am going to share ideas of different ways to use it in different types of lessons. They are not all social studies either! The World Atlas is recommended for ages 10 and older. 

From the Publisher:

The map experts at National Geographic bring you a new atlas that captures our world with completely updated maps, stats, and fun facts--the perfect reference for curious kids and students.

Learn all about the people, places, trends, and developments of our world in the sixth edition of this acclaimed atlas. All the latest, greatest geographic and political information makes this a valuable resource for using in the classroom or reading at home.

This new edition features:• A new map on global migration that introduces kids to the movement of people around the world• New graphics that present facts in an easy-to-read format• Colorful photography that shows the beauty and diversity of our world

This atlas is the perfect reference for kids to learn about lands close to home or oceans away. Complete your atlas collection with the National Geographic Kids United States Atlas, 6th edition! And for younger readers, don’t miss the National Geographic Kids Beginner’s World Atlas, 4th edition, and the National Geographic Kids Beginner’s United States Atlas, 3rd edition.

From Me:

The book begins with how to use it. It includes information about different types of maps. It includes information about using maps as well as making them. This takes us to our first lesson idea. 

Lesson 1

Look at the maps in the book and decide which type of map it is. Choose a specific map or page and discuss what the map(s) shows. For example on page 99 there are two maps of Eastern Europe. One is the political map showing the countries and cities, etc. The smaller map shows undisturbed forests. It is not as detailed as the political map but shows different information. Have kids discuss the similarities and differences between the two maps. 

After the introduction there is information about the world. It includes Earth's place in space, time zones, Earth in motion, a physical world map, information about the land, climate, vegetation, endangered species, natural disasters, political world map, population, migration, languages, world literacy, religions, economies, trade, water (including water cycle), food, and energy. There are many different lessons to go with these parts from the water cycle to the movement of the plates to a look at religion around the world. A lesson on endangered animals can be extended with seeing where the animals are. 

Next the book is divided by continents. There is an introduction "title page" with a photograph of the continent on the planet. It includes information about the physical land including total area, lowest and highest points and largest river and lake. It also has political information like population, largest city area, country and most densely populated country. Next are the physical and political maps of the continent. Then there are pages of information about the continent with loads of photographs and information. 

Then the book goes through sections of the continent. For some it is by country (like North America) and others are divided by sections (see photo below). There is information about each section including things like largest and smallest countries (if it is a section), most and least populous countries, predominant religions, highest and lowest GDP per capita, highest and lowest life expectancy, as well as some fun facts.

Lesson 2:

Depending on what you are studying, use the atlas to answer questions like:
  • Which country has the highest life expectancy in the world (or a specific continent)? 
  • What language is the most predominant in the world?
  • What is the smallest country in area?
  • What is the difference between the areas of the largest country and the smallest country?

After the continents comes information on the oceans. The "title" page includes things like total surface area and percentage of the earth, largest and smallest oceans, greatest depth, longest mountain range and tallest mountain, greatest tidal range and largest coral reef ecosystem. Then there is explanation about investigating the oceans and things like the underwater landscape. Then it goes through each of the four main oceans with statistics like surface area, percentage of Earth's water, greatest depth, highest and lowest tide heights as well as some fun facts. 

Lesson 3:

Many of our oceans have natural occurrences that cause storms. Explain the different storms and natural disasters that occur due to movement and activity in the oceans.

Lesson 4: 

While studying the water cycle, look at the oceans. How do they change over time? How does they water cycle affect the oceans?

The back of the book has different information like country flags and facts including area, population, percent urban, capital, languages, religion, GDP per capita and life expectancy for each country. There is a glossary, facts and figures, abbreviations, and conversions for measurements. Needless to say as a math teacher I could come up with many different questions using the facts and figures and conversions. 

Lesson 5:

a) When studying negative numbers, what is the height from the highest mountain to the deepest point in the ocean? What is the difference between the temperatures in the coldest and hottest places on Earth?
b) Change the answers from a) to metric measurements.
c) What percent of Japan's population lives in Tokyo?

Of course there is also plenty to use when studying animals in this book and looking at their habitat as well as what may be killing them. Some of the descriptions goes into the animals as well. So how are you going to use the latest World Atlas?