Mapping India
by Judith Freund

  Printable version of the lesson


This lesson was used during the Planet Friendship Class, College For Kids - Tuesday/Wednesday, August 5/6, 2003

This lesson is an introduction to the subcontinent of India. This activity is based on a lesson developed by Dr. Ila June Brown, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin in River Falls. The lesson is designed to be a hands-on map study and intended to provide the foundation for further activities and projects—in this case, IEARN classroom projects. Because the history and culture of any country is influenced by its geographical qualities this study is intended as a stepping-stone to pursue further projects and activities related to the country being studied. The complexity of the material presented can be varied based on the class size, age, etc.

Grade Level: Grades 3-5


  • Students will actively participate in one IEARN project by gathering research and posting the information minimally two times on the interactive forum.
  • Students will learn basic information about India
  • Students will do research for two other IEARN projects: Peace Project (CIVICS), Laws of Life, etc.

Curricular Areas: SS, LA, Art, Math

Standards: Geography: A.4.5, A.8.5, A.12.4, A.12.13

Time: Two hours

Background information for teachers

This lesson will work with any country. You will need to make a large map of India (or whatever country you are studying) out of fabric. The map must be made to scale. I have seen Dr. Ila June Brown do this lesson with beautiful padded maps that add interest and enhance the sense of physical features. Be creative!

Start the lesson with just the country created out of fabric, laying it on the floor. It should be quite large. Have students sit around the map. You then add features, depending on your focus, intent, etc. You will need to have placards or some other ways (be creative) to identify the features on the map.

What is important is that you provide background information and explanations after each feature is added. This is what will imprint on the students’ minds as the various features are added to large map, bringing it to life.

Also, allow the students to add the landmark (using whatever item you have chosen to identify the features). For example, direct a student to put down the Ganges River by pointing out where the beginning is, the cities and features it passes, and where emptied into the Bay of Bengal. Particularly younger students should sit around the map, so point out to students that they are sitting in the Bay of Bengal, or wherever! Have fun with this.

All this brings the map alive, which is the intent.


Activity/Time/Cross Reference


1. Introductory Activity

Select one of the following activities to introduce the lesson topic:

Artifact Box (15-30 minutes) of collected items from India. In groups of 2-3 have students pass around the artifact and guess what each is used for. Could also hold up photos of India and ask the students to identify similarities, differences, questions, etc.

Play a brief selection of sounds/music from India. Ask students to speculate on the origin (5 minutes);

Announce, “I am thinking of a country that: used to be a British Colony; gained independence in 1947; is the world’s largest democracy; is the second most populated country on earth, etc. After each question students are to write their guess. When they correctly guess India, ask what else they know about the country (they can do this in two, generate a list, then share).

Read a quote from the book Landscapes: Children’s Voices, and ask the student to guess where it comes from.

Read a profile of a person living in India.


2. Mapping India


Lay out the country outline. Provide information about the surrounding countries ( Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myamar, Kashmir); surrounding bodies of water ( Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea); lines of latitude.

Provide information about physical features as mountains cities (capital, New Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay); rivers (Ganges), salt march, etc.

Orientation to Tamilnadu. Explain that India has 28 states and that Tamilnadu is the southern most state. The capital of Tamilnadu is Madras. Madurai is the largest city. Discuss the dress and language of the state. Use the attached fact sheet to identify features you would like to use.

Demonstrate Religious diversity by dividing the class proportionately into the major religious groups.


Demonstrate the ethnic diversity by dividing the students proportionately into the states of India


Questions: Ask the students what are the questions that they have about India now. Write these on the board. Based on the questions that they ask, have them get the information for their own community or neighborhood.


Use the questions for the basis for the Day in the Life project with IEARN






Indian artifacts

Photos of India (


Sound tape




Landscapes: Children’s Voices (Or other story set in India)

Resource: Potter’s Story




Large cloth map of India; placards



Fact Sheet on Tamilnadu; photos, tapes.








Day in the Life Project



For fact sheets, photos of India, and information on Indian culture visit the Center for South Asia Webpage at

Landscapes: Children’s Voices, edited by Gita Wolf, Tara Publishing, Madras, India

Potters Story: Appendix 1

For information about iEARN Projects visit



Have students research a country of their choice. Or they could do a state of India. They then must create a map lesson similar to the one provided for the country of India, but specific to their selected country, of course.


Grading Rubric

Extent to which the country/state represented to scale

The number of physical features that are included

Number of political (cities) features that are included

Number of historical features that are included

Overall creative quality of the project

Accuracy of information



Math: if the map is drawn to scale there will be endless possibilities for calculating distances, area, travel time, etc.

Art: the students can be asked to draw or create artifacts that will be used to indicate the various physical, political, or historical sites.

The entire map could be directed toward a specific topic, such as science (indicate location of endangered species, migration patterns, water usage, etc.), historical (locate the world heritage sites in India), geographical, of course, etc.


Back to lesson plans