Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Road Trip

Fractions Using a Map Scale

Danny Mattox, Danny Mattox, Kristi Adams | Published: November 4th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 3rd
  • Subject Subject
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 120 minutes


In this introductory unit on using map scales, students will use a map scale to determine the distance between two points on a map.

Essential Question(s)

How does using a map scale help me?



Students listen to the book Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy and discuss road trips they have taken.


Students develop a travel plan flyer to reinforce map scale reading/measuring skills.


Students present their travel flyers to the class and explain how they measured the distance between their cities.


Students make graphical representations that illustrate the total number of miles the class traveled and compare their distance planned to others and to the total.


Students participate in partner work.


  • Oklahoma maps: enough for students to work in pairs

  • Rulers

  • Pencils

  • Notebook paper11 x 17 white paper, possibly larger, if available

  • Markers, colored pencils, or crayons

  • Road Trip Guidelines

  • Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy


Have students Think-Pair-Share to answer the question, “Have you ever taken a road trip?”

Share the book Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy.

As you read it, point out the map skills used by Penny. (For example, look at pages 3 and 4 and discuss the elements that make up a map.)

Using the classroom map, locate the map scale for the class. If a classroom map isn’t available, then a map from Google could be used or one from the students’ Social Studies textbook.

Demonstrate how to use a ruler and a map scale to determine the distance from one point on the map to another.

Distribute Oklahoma maps to pairs of students.

Ask students to locate the map scale. Discuss the unit of measurement used on the map scale.

As a class, have the students find the distance between Oklahoma City and Ponca City. Teacher should walk around the room helping when needed.

Direct students to find the distance between Ponca City and Tulsa. Teacher will walk around the room helping as needed.


Direct students to find physical or geographical features seen on the map. Record the findings on the board.

Tell students they are “Travel Agents” planning the ultimate Oklahoma Road Trip.

Working in partners, have students develop a travel plan for a road trip. Hand out the “Road Trip” guidelines found in the attachments. After discussing the guidelines, allow students ample work time to complete the project. **Measurements will be straight-line measurements: from point A to point B.

Allow students time to further investigate the landforms they ‘discover’ on their road trip.

Ask how do the physical land forms effect the community that surrounds it? •

If technology is available, have students use Google Maps to check their mileage calculations. Once students have checked their calculations, discuss the differences that are seen and possibilities for the difference.


Ask students to present their travel plan flyer to the class and explain how they decided what towns to visit and their measuring techniques.

Make a class list of the geographic landforms that students mention in their presentations. With their partner, ask students to discuss the list that is made. Compare this list with the first list that was made. Were there any surprises?

Ask students to compare the types of landforms in the different regions of Oklahoma.


Write on the board the total number of miles each group traveled.

Ask students "What is the best way to display these data? Have students Think-Pair-Share

Possible answers: “bar graph or pictograph.”

Working in partners, have students create their own graphical representations of the class data. They could make this on grid paper or plain paper.

Direct students to do a Gallery Walk/Carousel to show off the graphical representations.

During the Gallery Walk, have one student stay with their group’s poster. This student will share the graph that was made and explain why the graph that was used was selected.


Based on your observations and adjustments you make in the lesson, evaluate how the students are measuring.

Lead a class discussion about everyone observed during the gallery walk.

Model how to determine the cost of the trip if traveling by car. For example if my group traveled 250 miles, how much gas would it take and how much would this cost?

Use the travel plan rubric attachment to assess their work.

Have students respond to the question “ How will knowing how to use a map scale help me in my life?” in a journal or use an Exit Ticket.