Teaching Geography with Invisible Maps in the Foreign Language Class

Students remember geography better when they can visualize locations without referring to a map.  One way that students can hone this skill is to have them make “invisible maps” before they look at actual maps.  Basically, the teacher has students take out their invisible maps and hang them up in front of them.  The teacher does the same with her map in the front of the class.  The teacher then stands behind the invisible map and draws on countries, cities, rivers, oceans, streets or landmarks.  As she does this, students draw the locations on their invisible maps as well.

The teacher should draw each location on several times and have students draw several times as well.  As the activity moves on the teacher can simple say the names of the locations and students can draw them on their maps.  At the conclusion of the activity the teacher gives students a blank map with the names of the locations that they had drawn on their invisible maps.  You will soon see how quickly the students are able to match the names to the locations because they are now able to visual the locations in their head and then transfer that knowledge to the actual map that they are working with.

One thing to keep in mind is that the teacher needs to draw the map backwards because she is standing behind the invisible map and facing students so that the locations are in the correct place for students when they mimic the drawing that the teacher is doing.  This takes some practice and I recommend that you photocopy the map on a transparency that you can flip over and reference when you first try this out.

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