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United States Map - Lesson 2 (K-3)

Introduction to Symbols

Objectives The students will learn that picture symbols can be used to express ideas.
Vocabulary symbol
Materials Needed post-it-notes: draw symbols on the post-it-notes for happy face, sad face, no smoking, quiet please, hospital zone, school zone, no parking, airport



(Pull down the United States Map. You can have the students place the post-it-notes on the surface of the map.)


Explain to the students that they do not always have to be able to read a word to tell what something is. Sometimes we can use signs or symbols to express an idea and never say a word. Write the word symbol on the board. A symbol is a drawing, line, or dot that stands for something else.


Use the post-it-note symbols to show examples of symbols.


Have the post-it-note symbols ready to be placed on the map. Ask one student to find the happy face and sad face symbols and place them on the map. Do the same for the quite please and no smoking symbols. Ask the students how they decided what each symbol meant. The symbols discussed so far express an action or feeling. Tell the students that symbols can also be used to show where different things are located.


Have the school zone, airport, and hospital symbols ready for the students to use. Ask the students what the symbols mean. Have the students place the symbols on the map.


Explain to the students that since a symbol is a drawing or sign that stands for a real place or thing, symbols can be made for nearly everything.


Locate your city on the map, or a city close to you. Explain to the students that a map of the United States shows a very large area. Mapmakers cannot draw a picture of each city. Mapmakers use symbols. Explain that a symbol is used to locate your city on the map and the students will locate other cities in another lesson.

Lesson  .pdf file (Printable Lesson)

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