Make Your Own: Elementary Maps

One of the wonderful things about Montessori education is the emphasis on global awareness right from the Primary level. Three to six year old students work with puzzle maps, experience festivals from around the world, and explore continent boxes.

Second plane students continue their geography study in a hands on manner through the use of pin maps. These maps include pins for countries and major cities, but also water and landforms.

There are many options when buying pin maps, but of course I have a DIY for you! I recently made a map of the Mediterranean/Mesopotamia/North Africa region to go along with our studies of ancient history.

You will need:
– 18″x24″ foam core posterboard
– pins or toothpicks
– printer
– map image
– scissors or paper trimmer
– glue and/or tape

The hardest part of the whole process is finding a map image. I recommend searching through Google Images to find something you like. Since I was making a map of the ancient world, and political boundaries were very different to today (and constantly changing) I wanted a physical map, rather than a political one. The Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill had the perfect map for me! For this particular project, I chose their Mediterranean Physical Map, version 2.

I only wanted to print the section of the map as west as Carthage, as north as part of Italy, as east as possible, and as south as Aswan, Egypt. Acrobat Reader has a great option to print a document over multiple sheets, splitting it over pages and doing all the work for you! Here’s a walk-through process that will work for any map:

  1. Open the map file in Adobe Reader DC.
  2. Go to File->Print
  3. Select the Poster printing option.
  4. Scale up your image so that the part you want printed will fit on your posterboard. I only wanted to print the middle section of the map, so I scaled my map up 450%. Printing the middle 6 pages will be more than I need.
  1. IMPORTANT: Change the printer to the Print to PDF option – this will let you preview your map, and will let you choose which pages you want to print. Save the file somewhere you can find it easily.
  2. Find and open your new file.
  3. Go to View->Page Display->Two-Page Scrolling
  4. Zoom out until you can see 4-6 page on your screen.

Scroll through the map document and select the pages you need to print. For this particular project, I want to print pages 9, 10, 11, and 12, 13, 14.

  1. Go to File->Print
  2. Change your printer back to your physical printer.
  3. Select “Size” under the Page Sizing and Handling option
  4. For “Pages to Print” choose “Pages” and enter the page numbers you want to print.
  5. Click “Print.”

The pages will print with a border around the edges with an overlap guide. Use your scissors or paper cutter to cut the pages down to fit on the posterboard, then glue or tape into place.

You can use pins or toothpicks to make your flags. When I made our world map I made each flag with a country flag as we studied it. For this map, I made text flags with country and city names in black, water form names in blue text, and landform names in green text. The key here for me was pacing! When I made the map I only made labels for the Mesopotamia and Egypt areas we’d studied. As we are now part way through out study of Ancient Greece, I’ve just made those labels.

I use toothpicks for my maps, and use a compass point to pre-poke the hole where I want it.

You’ll also want to go back and open up the original download file. Print one copy to label as a control map. We keep our control map tucked just behind our wall map.

This is a great, customizable DIY, perfect for any geographical area. I have a world map printed on the back of my Ancient Mediterranean area map, so you can absolutely use both sides of the board!

I hope this walks you through the steps to create your own pin maps!