Pulling Together Maps

For a few yeas now, ParaEducate has been working on extras, the things that paraprofessionals or paraeducators actually may be doing, probably without formal training or guidance.

Renay puts a lot of credence into the things one can learn on the job and to each other. What we haven’t talked a lot about is the formal learning that one does as a part of the job, the skills we didn’t know we needed to know.

There are many things we create to replace or do the job of paper/pencil activities. Sometimes it’s just as simple as using a computer or a tablet. And other times, it’s a lot more complicated. For example, being tested about maps. While Common Core doesn’t explicitly say “label a map’ in direct language, some teachers value this skill. It is a memorization but slightly more valuable in knowing ones place in the universe, or let alone in a specific area. Maps speak to more than location, knowing how to relate to a map, one from ancient times or from our current era can tell a lot about how the area changed over time. Maps also predict information that can be learned and then predicted. For example, “What value does a city have being near a river? What major rivers have been used this way?”

So what can one do when a student needs to identify a place on a map? Build a map!


  • Map for area in question 2 copies
  • Glue stick
  • Contact paper
  • clear packing tape
  • card stock paper or cardboard
  • color pencil or markers (or a combination of both)
  • Black fine point pen
  • Velcro

Steps for building a tear tab map:

  1. Find the map you are going to use. Sometimes you will get this from the general education teacher. Sometimes you are just going to have to search for a blank map. The great news, is that many maps are now available online. The majority are currently accurate, though for some political maps you may have to check to get the most updated map.
  2. Make 2 copies of this map. If you are using the map of the United States, we suggest enlarging the map to 11”x 17”. Generally you want the map to have countries, states, or locations of interest to be large enough to pick up.
  3. Glue or print the first map onto card stock. Use glue stick not white glue.
  4. Color and label the second map. We strongly suggest generally just color pencil, but we have also had some success with markers or combined color pencil and marker combination. You are also going to want to make sure to label in a manner that can be read by the student. I have seen a few glue on typed labels from a computer.
  5. Attach the second map to cardboard or card stock. (We have direct printed before, but this is usually the best method for the second map.)
  6. Cut the pieces (countries, states, regions, areas of geographic highlight) individually.
  7. Laminate the map and the pieces. The map can probably stand being laminated with a traditional laminator if you used card stock. Otherwise, use packing tape or contact paper. (We swear by packing tape, cost-wise it is the best course of action).
  8. Stick the parts of the map that need attention with Velcro. We typically save this for last, but depending on how fast your turn around time, we may Velcro as we make the device
  9. Use the colored areas during class to draw attention to the spots that need attention. Let the student get used to putting the map feature in the correct spot.
  10. Save the map! Once the unit is over, save the map. This is about an hour to three hours of work and can be used over and over again.

This method also works for identifying items on a diagram in science. Have fun, at least the coloring part is relaxing.

ParaEducate will be taking a week off next week for the US Thanksgiving holiday. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and here. ParaEducate is company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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ParaEducate is a company run to help reach out to paraeducators or paraprofessionals in public K-12 schools, giving advice, talking about publications that ParaEducate produces, and other useful information regarding working in public school settings.
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