Immigration Map Assignment

Lessons, Activities, Map-Making Resources, and More

By Phil Nast, retired middle school teacher and freelance writer

Found In:language arts & literature, math, science, social studies, preK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Lessons & Activities

Lesson Plans

Introduction to Latitude and Longitude
Students in grades K-2 look at lines of latitude and longitude on a map of the U.S. and discuss why the lines are helpful. They also discuss how temperature varies with latitude.

A View from Overhead
Students in grades K-3 develop an understanding of the overhead view presented by most maps. See six more lessons at Map Adventures.

Mapping Your State
Students in grades 2-4 work in groups to create a state tourism map.

How to Read a Topographic Map
Students in grades 4-8 learn how to read a topographic map of Salt Lake City.

Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map!
Students in grades 6-8 evaluate historical and geographical information on 16th-19th century maps and create maps of their own.

Genographic Project: Looking Ahead
Students in grades 9-12 discuss how the world may change in one thousand years, and then work in teams to create an imaginary updated study of human migration.

Making the Invisible Visible
Students in grades 9-12 evaluate and compare ways geographers, cartographers, artists, and scientists are beginning to map cyberspace.

Activities & Games

Explore Mars
Collect rock samples on the surface of Mars with a map and Rover. 

MapStats for Kids
Students in grades 5-8 can click Globie to learn map concepts or Stixie to learn about statistics. Five games will help students practice the skills.

Galaxy Zoo
Students in grades 9-12 can help astronomers classify galaxies according to shape.

Sally Ride EarthKAM
More Lessons & Activities

National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure
Aimed primarily at elementary students, this site includes information about using maps, games, and links to other National Geographic resources.

National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure: For Educators
Many lesson plans and activities for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

Mapping Discord: Creating a Primer on the Arab World
Students in grades 6-12 create an annotated map of the Middle East and North Africa.

Connecting the Dots: Interpreting U.S. Census Data
Students in grades 9-12 examine maps representing census data from the last 100 years and generate and find answers to research questions.

Mapping Our Neighborhoods, Mapping America
Students in grades 6-12 read an article and interpret an associated map showing local data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to learn where immigrants have settled in the U.S. during the last ten years. Answer six data analysis questions using both resources.

Education Resources
The US Geological Survey offers many lessons, activities, and teacher packets for K-12 classrooms.

Google Earth Lessons
This site aids teachers using Google Earth in their classrooms. Some of the links are dead, but the site is still worth investigating. NOTE: the site is not affiliated with Google.

Historic Maps and Lessons
Chicago’s Newberry Library offers maps and lessons for gradesK-12, covering the themes of exploration and encounter, migration and settlement, environmental history, transportation, political and military, and communities.

Background Resources

Map Making Guides

These grade level guides introduce mapmaking, explaining map elements, map design, and types of maps. They include links to related resources.

Teaching with Infographics | A Student Project Model
A social studies teacher with years in middle school and high school classrooms characterizes herself as a “fanatic” about using infographics in education. In this series of blog entries, she describes ways to use infographics.

Math/Science Nucleus: Types of Maps
Introduces elementary students to types of maps and geographic information systems.       

Maps & Globes: Maps
Students in grades 3-5 can learn about various types of maps and map features.

National Weather Center: Weather Lessons
A basic introduction to map analysis and interpretation for students in grades 5-8.

USGS Science Resources for Primary Grades and for Middle School and High School

These USGS pages included geography resources.

USGS Science Resources for Undergraduate Education
Although designed for college undergraduates, some of these activities might be fitted to high school students.

GeoThentic Online Environment
Designed to use geographic technology to make and justify decisions about contemporary issues: for example, where to build a hospital in San Francisco based on seismic activity and population density. Teachers can sign up for a free account.

Videos & Interactives

Printables & Quizzes



  • Quia: Map Skills
    A 20 question quiz on reading and using various types of maps.
    Dozens of self-correcting quizzes covering the continents.
  • MapQuiz
    Timed and untimed quizzes covering Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States.

Special Purpose Maps

Examples of Special Purpose Maps

Statistics for Making Maps

  • FedStats
    Statistics from more than 100 agencies.

Expanding the Concept of Mapping

Matthew Bloch and Robert Gebeloff/The New York TimesThe Times’s interactive Immigration Explorer Map allows you to select a foreign-born group and trace how they settled across the United States.

Update: May 21, 2013

In this post, we present six quick ways to teach about current issues in immigration as well as a list of nearly 40 immigration-related lesson plans, useful Topics pages and multimedia from The Times and rich resources from around the Web.

Teachers: Tell us how you teach immigration.

1. Immigration reform: Students can research the issues related to immigration reform, including border security, the economic impact of foreign-born workers, and paths to citizenship for those who have entered illegally. Then, if you want to take the idea further, they can draft an immigration bill, debate provisions and take a vote.

2. Immigration’s impact on public schools: Use these interactive graphics to examine the impact of immigration on diversity in America’s classrooms and study the growth in the number of English-language learners in American public schools.

Inspect the statistics in your own school district and consider different perspectives about how young immigrants should be taught in public schools. Read an article and watch a video about the case of a Virginia school that teaches English-language learners in separate classrooms from native English speaking students.

To explore the topic further, teachers can use this lesson with secondary students or this lesson for elementary students.

3. Who are today’s immigrants? Listen to the personal stories of immigrants in the United States who work white collar jobs and read about how immigrants today are evenly distributed across the economic spectrum. Analyze a chart that illustrates the relationship between immigration and economic growth and another that shows which cities have the highest percentage of immigrants working in white collar jobs. Compare what you have learned about immigrants in the United States today to stereotypes about immigrants to the United States.

Teachers may want to wrap up this examination of the lives of immigrants in the United States today using this lesson, which has students interview an immigrant in their community.

4. Immigration past and present: Surf the Times’s Immigration Explorer, read about who’s coming to America today, and examine charts and graphs that illustrate contemporary immigration statistics. Students can also use a Times interactive map in which they can browse local data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, based on samples from 2005 to 2009.

Record what you find using the Coming to America handout (PDF). Teachers can have students explore these resources further using the “Coming to America” lesson plan. They might also do activities in this lesson plan about the American Dream, or in this lesson in which students write letters from imaginary immigrants to relatives in their countries of origin.

5. Immigration and your community: Explore the Times series Remade in America, which examines immigration through seven different lenses: schools, workplaces, hospitals, politics, businesses, social services and the family.

Pick one of the lenses as a focus and examine the multimedia feature that accompany the article. Then use the Times’ Immigration Explorer to find immigration data about your own community and add information about your own community to your findings. Or, split students into seven groups to investigate immigration from all seven lenses.

6. Arizona’s immigration law: In April 2010 Arizona passed a law aimed at identifying, prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants. The law was hotly debated because critics charged that it promoted racial profiling and discrimination against all Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status. Since then five other states adopted similar legislation patterned after Arizona’s law. In June 2012 the Supreme Court issued a split decision upholding part of Arizona’s law while blocking other parts.

Investigate different perspectives on the law here,here and here. You might also examine President Obama’s and Senator McCain’s opinions of the law. And read what the Supreme Court had to say about Arizona’s law, including dissenting opinions.

Then, tell us what you think about Arizona’s legislation and the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Lessons on Immigrant Rights and Immigration Law in the U.S.

Lessons on The Immigrant Experience

Lessons on Immigration History

Lessons on Migration Around the World

Student Crossword Puzzles

Times Curriculum Specials

Related Times Topics

Selected Times Specials and Multimedia

For more related multimedia resources, visit the Multimedia/Photos page and search “immigration.”

Resources from Around the Web

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