Teaching with the Giant Map of Africa

Posted on February 18th, 2013 by

This semester’s elementary Social Studies methods group jumped right into teaching! For our first day of class, we helped second grade students from St. Peter’s South Elementary explore National Geographic’s Giant Map of Africa.

In this activity, we asked students to estimate whether Africa is longer north-south or east-west. Then the second grade students used their bodies to find in the answer!


Here are a few things that our teacher candidates had to say about the experience:

  • “I was able to connect with and teach students about Africa. It means a lot when you get the opportunity to put into practice what you are learning in your college classes! Sarah Larson, junior, Elementary Education major
  • “Using the Giant map created a learning environment that promoted engagement, physical activity, as well as fun.” Joshua Timmerman, senior, Elementary Education major


  • “The map represented one of the many diverse tools that can utilized in a classroom to enhance learning. Using the Giant Map of Africa provided students with a more hands-on experience that they couldn’t experience with a simple map in a classroom.” Brad Kluver, senior, Elementary Education major

We also made the local paper! Click here to read what the St. Peter Herald has to say about the event! (Jill Oxborough and Megan Schroepfer were quoted!)



  1. Sarah Martin says:

    The giant map of Africa is a good example of hands on learning that many students can benefit from. The fact that kids are able to actually walk on the map and walk along its features makes the learning experience more memorable and meaningful. I would opportunities like this in the classroom!

    When working with different groups of children, I definitely saw difference from group to group. The first group that I led was very well mannered and payed attention throughout the “tour.” My second group seemed to be all over the place and it was hard to hold their attention. This is a good reminder that all students are different and I will have to work at engaging each and everyone of them.

  2. Megan Schroepfer says:

    I really enjoyed this activity! It was not only fun for us to teach but also to see the students be so engaged. I learned a lot for the map and I know for a fact that the students learned a lot as well. I am really happy we had the opportunity to work with the map. It was a once in a life time experience.

  3. Joshua Timmerman says:

    This activity was not only a ton of fun for the students, but it was extremely fun for all of us who were teaching the students! It was a wonderful way to integrate physical activity with a wide variety of content areas. It was amazing to see what the students were able to learn in such a short period of time. They were picking up complex ideas of population density and distribution, and they were only in second grade! It was a great activity.

  4. Kara Peterson says:

    I will admit that when I had heard we would be teaching about Africa it had made me a bit nervous. I mean, sure, I remember learning about the Horn of Africa in World Regional Geography, but I did not think that was enough to get me through the entire lesson! However, after looking back and reflecting on how everything went, I would say the event was a huge success!
    I think this goes to show how real teaching is like. You never know when a ‘teachable moment’ will occur, and when it does, you have to seize the opportunity. In the end I believe the students both enjoyed using the map and learned a lot of information. For example, I work with quite a few of the students at my work-study job and many of the students were talking about it the next day. They were talking about sorts of different things they had learned. This was a great opportunity for all of us as pre-service teacher and a nice jumpstart into methods.

  5. Jenna Johnson says:

    When doing this activity, I had so much and maybe even more fun than the students while exploring the map. It was great to be interactive with information and you could visualize the geographical information that was being presented. I think the kids enjoyed it to because they were able to move around while learning map skills that could be seen as rather boring in a normal classroom setting.

  6. Sarah Larson says:

    This was such a great experience to apply what we are learning in class to a real-life situation. I learned a lot about Africa myself through teaching these mini-lessons and it was great to have the students get so excited about learning in a new and different way.

  7. Stephanie Glaser says:

    Working with the giant map was a great experience for the students, and us too; we all got to experience learning about another continent in a way that we never had before. The students were very engaged the whole time and excited to learn!

  8. Casey Dowling says:

    I was so excited when I heard that we would be teaching on our second day of class! I was a little nervous about teaching about Africa, but doing a little research and learning about the map before the kids arrived gave me the confidence I needed. The map was a huge success, and a really awesome experience to be a part of. The students loved it and were able to learn so much in a quick 30 minute lesson!

  9. Nicole Haglund says:

    On our 1st day of class we were told we would be teaching 2nd graders the following day. I was very surprised and anxious for the lesson. It turned out to be a hit! I think the kids really enjoyed this unique opportunity! As a pre-service teacher it was a great experience!

  10. Caitlin Bonde says:

    I loved how this was such a fun activity for both the students and us, as pre-service teachers. I honestly learned a lot from exploring this giant map. This was a perfect way to begin our method’s courses!