C2 Maps

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Taken from the BB Company Section Discoverer Pack, Recreation, Outdoor and adventure, Expedition Maps C2
Activity 1 Finding out about maps
Activity 2 Using an ordnance survey map


Activity 1
• Maps (appropriate number to group size)
• Paper / flipchart
• Pens

Activity 2
• Landranger Ordnance Survey Maps and/or Explorer Ordnance Survey Maps (appropriate number to group size)
• Paper / flipchart
• Pens


Activity 1 - Finding out about Maps

Aim: For young people to know what a map Is and what it is used for.

To start with, ask the young people to think what the world would be like without maps. How would you plan a route to go on holiday without a map? Ask the young people who might use a map; encourage them to think of Those who might use a map in everyday life, some examples are given below.

Maps could be used by any or all of the following:

Tourists when visiting a town or city, perhaps using maps of transport systems like the tube map to travel across London or Glasgow.

Walkers or people on an expedition, to enable them to find footpaths and rights of way.

Young people at a theme park trying to find the rides they want to go on.

And there are of course lots more. Try to use examples which the young people in your group could relate to.

Ask the young people to mind-map any other examples they can think of

What is a Map? A map is a 2 dimensional representation of the physical landscape. A map is simply a drawing or a picture of a landscape of areas of a country. Using a map you can visualise in your mind what the place looks like that you are going to, and you can see the various landmarks and features along the route you will take to get to your destination. Maps provide you with a way of knowing what to expect on your route and checking you are going in the right direction to reach your destination.

Next, ask the young people to think about different kinds of maps, and mind-map these, examples could include: Ordnance Survey map, tube map, railway map, campsite map, road atlas, etc. See how many the young people can add to this list.

At this point you could circulate some maps you have collected together to give the young people visual examples of the different types.

All of these maps are most likely to be on paper, but ask the young people if they know of any other forms of getting access to maps? Examples could include Satellite Navigation Systems (such as Tom Tom devices), online access to maps (e.g. www.multimap.com).

Ask the young people when they last used a map? Where were they going? Did the map help?

Explain that maps are very useful, but only if they are kept up to date and you have the up to date copy (if you have maps published on different dates you could find a change to re-enforce this point). Remember maps also come in different shapes and sizes, and on different scales.

Then give the young people copies of a map which would be familiar, Le. Local area or local railway/tube map. Ask them using the map how they would explain how to get from one set location to another.

Finally, give the young people 10 minutes to draw their own map to show a friend the route from their house to school or BB. Remember to ask them to show buildings and landmarks they would pass on their route

Tips / Advice:
If the young people are drawing their own map, you could provide them with a Ordnance Survey or other map of the local area to help them if they are unsure

Activity 2 - Using an Ordnance Survey Map

Aim: To provide young people with the basic understanding of an Ordnance Survey map.

This activity will get young people looking at an Ordnance Survey map and help them to understand what is shown on the map.

Firstly, ask the young people if they have seen an Ordnance Survey map before (if already completed Activity 1 they should have), and then ask who has used an OS map to navigate before. This will give you an idea as to the knowledge of the group if you are not already aware of the young people’s experience with OS maps.

Then ask the young people to mind-map what they think is shown on an Ordnance Survey map, responses could include roads, rivers, footpaths, churches, post office, etc. In particular focus the group on the symbols which they know of which are used on an OS map and get them to list as many as they can, and also draw the symbol if they have an idea of what it looks like.

Next give the young people an Ordnance Survey map (you may need to put the young people into groups to share maps), and ask them to have a look at the symbols index. Now go through the symbols highlighting the key symbols including types of road, rivers, footpaths, bridal ways, churches, etc. Explain that it is not possible to label everything on a map, as if the Ordnance Survey did this on all their maps there would be far too much text and the map would be very confusing. Instead of using text different shapes, colours and symbols are used to show all the roads, buildings, rivers and other interesting things in the landscape. The key to the symbols and their meanings is very important.

Give the young people the Using an Ordnance Survey Map’ template and carry out the symbols activity.

Grid References
Explain to the young people that OS maps are covered in a series of grid lines. These gridlines will help you to be able to find an exact location on the map by giving a unique number known as a grid reference.

Give the young people the ‘Using an Ordnance Survey Map’ template and carry out the grid references activities. This covers four figure and six figure grid references.

You could then set some further scenarios up using an OS map, to ensure the young people have plenty of practice.

Explain to the young people that the scale of a map shows how much you have to enlarge your map to get the actual size of the area you are looking at.

Ordnance Surveys maps will always show the scale on the front of the map. The most common scales are 1:25 000 and 1:50 000. These scales mean that for every 1cm the map it represents 25 000 of those same units of measurement on the ground (25 000cm = 250 metres). But it is easier to work out than this, as every OS map has the scale written as below:

2cm to 1km (1: 50 000 scale map)
4cm to 1km (1: 25 000 scale map)

Therefore the above gives an easier way of working out the scale on a map to actual distance over land. t Also it is worth pointing out that on a 1:25 000 scale map every grid square is 1km square.

Explain to the young people that OS maps show the height and shape of the land by the use of contour lines. Contour lines are shown on OS maps as light brown lines, and are usually shown at 5 or 10 metre
vertical intervals showing the height of the land. A number shown on the contour lines will represent the height above sea level. The closer the lines are together, the steeper the gradient of the land.

Show the young people an example of contour lines on an OS map, so that they understand what they are looking at.

Tips / Advice:
Symbols — do not confuse footpaths and other roads with boundaries (look at key and highlight to the young people)

For full details see the BB Company Section Discoverer Pack, Recreation, Outdoor and adventure, Expedition Maps C2


  • hiking
  • navigation
  • map reading
  • maps

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