AUTHOR: Donna Johnson; Wallowa Elementary, OR


OVERVIEW: Orienteering is a popular sport in Australia and Sweden and is used as a training activity in the service. It teaches the participants how to read and use a map. The activity can be adjusted according to grade level by the difficulty of the course and even the use of a compass. Excellent activity for field trips. I used it as a culminating activity to an outdoor unit.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this activity is to involve students in map skills in an every day situation, making the use of maps more real to them.

OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to:

  1. Use a map to locate six specific landmarks in a given area.
  2. Individually, and as a group, write a list of how maps and landmarks can help us.
  3. Write an explanation of how to get from point A to point B to someone unfamiliar to the area.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS: A selected course that has been mapped and specific landmarks color coded with crayons or small self-stick circles.

Courses may be either familiar or unfamiliar to students depending on the level of difficulty needed to meet student needs.

A few possible suggestions may be: the playground, a city park, a wooded area near the school, or a specific rural area the class make take a bus to for a field trip.


  1. Maps are distributed in classroom and a discussion follows concerning north, south, east, and west and pictures of landmarks. If a compass is used, prior discussion of its use is needed.
  2. Explain procedure for completing the orienteering activity. Look for six small circles near specific landmarks on your map. When you locate one of the indicated landmarks on the course, you will find a crayon on a string at that spot. Without removing the crayon from the string, fill in the appropriate circle on your map. Complete all six circles in this manner. If you finish the map correctly, each circle will be a different color that will correspond to the map I have already completed.
  3. You will work with a partner to discuss problems and the completion of the course. You are responsible for your partners safety and upon their return to the starting position.
  4. If you hear three blows on the whistle, return to the starting point. Students are reminded of safety precautions and to return to the starting point when they have finished the course.
  5. Pairs of students are sent out in different directions and at different intervals so as not to follow one another or clump together.


  1. Check maps with key.
  2. Brainstorm an individual list and then make a list on the board of how maps and the use of landmarks can help us.
  3. Write a paragraph describing how to get from the red circle to the yellow circle assuming no one else is familiar to the area.


Thanks, Donna, for such a great lesson plan.

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Thanks for the assistance and thanks for the great work!

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