Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

There's a Map for That!

European Countries

Susan McHale | Published: November 17th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course World Geography
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 145 minutes


This lesson presents an overview of political maps in general and specifically maps from countries in the Eastern Hemisphere. Students will understand the key features of a political map. They will complete a map of European countries, capital cities, and related political map information. By the end of the lesson, students should be able to create mental maps of the designated countries and identify significant features for each country.

Essential Question(s)

What do political maps tell us? How are they important to our understanding of geography?



Students participate in a class contest to draw the outline of Oklahoma and identify the location of the capital, their hometown, the Red River, a boundary, and a water source.


Students identify the main features of a political map using an "I Think, We Think" activity.


Student groups create a political map of the countries of Europe, highlighting the countries of France, Italy, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), Russia, and Germany. Groups research facts surrounding various features of the countries.


Students play "Geo-Pictionary"" by drawing mental maps to reinforce the location of European cities and countries. A shorter game version is also available.


Students are assessed based on the presentation of their political map of the assigned country.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Blank or recycled computer paper (with at least one clean side) for students.

  • A bag of any kind of individually wrapped pieces of candy (optional).

  • A basket to use for drawing country names and/or Geo-Pictionary clues.

  • Outline map of Europe

  • Outline map of Russia

  • Chart tablet paper

  • Political map student rubric

  • Country Frayer Model handout

  • Markers

  • Colored map pencils


Open the attached Lesson Slides and show students the Essential Questions for this lesson on slide 3. See if anyone can answer the question about the importance of political maps. Tell them if they don't know the answer that by the end of the lesson they will have a better understanding.

Mental Maps of Oklahoma: Pass out blank or recycled computer paper or ask students to use a sheet of notebook paper. Explain to students that there will be several small contests in class today. For the first contest, students will draw the outline of the state map of Oklahoma from memory or to the best of their ability. Tell students that the contest will be based not only on who finishes first, second, and third but also on has the drawing that most closely resembles an actual map of Oklahoma. Students may begin when you say, "Go!" Tell students to raise their paper in the air when they think that they have the map completed. Identify who finished first, second, and third according to the order of hands raised and ask those students to come to the front of the room.

Once three contestants have come to the front of the class with their maps, show the outline map of Oklahoma on slide 4. Ask students to vote for the map that looks the nearest to the one displayed on the slide. Reward the best map with a piece of candy or small reward based upon voting or your own rules (see Teacher's Note below). Ask students to hold on to their own maps, as there will be further contests.

Explain to students that the second contest today will be to label the location of the capital city of Oklahoma AND the location of their hometown on their map. Tell students that maps sometimes use a small star symbol to identify the capital city and a dot to indicate other cities. They should use those symbols as well. Again, have students begin when you say, "Go!" When they are finished, they should again raise their papers in the air. You will determine which students raised their papers first, second, and third. Those students will come to the front of the room, and a winner will be determined as in the previous contest.

For the third and final contest, ask students to identify where the Red River is located in Oklahoma. Follow the procedures in a similar manner as you did for the previous contests.

Display the political map of Oklahoma on slide 5, noting where the capital city (Oklahoma City) is located, where their hometown is located, and where the Red River is located. Compare the location of these cities and the river with the locations that students chose.


I Think/We Think about political maps: Have students flip their paper over. Ask them to look closely at the map of Oklahoma on slide 5. Tell students this is a political map of Oklahoma. Introduce an I Think/We Think instructional strategy by having students create two columns on their paper, labeling one column "I Think" and the second column "We Think."

Display slide 6. Read aloud the directions for the I Think column and then display slide 5 (the Oklahoma map) again. Allow students one or two minutes to complete this portion of the strategy, and then ask students to find a partner and compare their answers. Slide 7 shows the We Think directions. Students should work with their partners to create one list of features of a political map in the We Think column. Allow five minutes for students to discuss and write their answers in the We Think column. Now, transition to slide 8 and have partners compare their We Think list with the definition of a political map found on slide 8.

Ask pairs to partner with another pair (forming a group of four) to discuss the question on slide 9, "How might political maps be useful?" Allow two to three minutes for groups to discuss.


Political Maps of Europe. Pass out an outline map of Europe and Russia to each student. Tell students they will teach the remainder of the lesson about one country in Europe, or Russia, and its political features. Explain that the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom is made up of four countries that are under one rule with London as its capital. Those countries are England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. (See further explanation in Teacher's Note below.)

The countries that students will study are Germany, France, Italy, Russia, and the individual countries of the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales). Divide students into eight groups so that each country is represented. Assign each group a country or have them draw a name out of a basket.

Once countries are determined, pass out the outline maps, the rubric, and the Country Frayer Model to all students. Each group will eventually get a piece of chart tablet paper as well.

Go over the rubric and ask if there are any questions. Groups will create their own map outline on one sheet of the chart tablet paper. This map should be drawn freehand and include the capital city, one major water source, and at least one major city.

Each group member is responsible for turning in a completed Frayer Model handout. Each section asks for specific information about the capital, major water sources, bordering countries or bordering geography, and five other facts about the country in general. Slide 8 displays an example of the chart tablet map and Country Frayer Model.

Direct students to the CIA World Factbook website, the Country Reports website or the Encyclopedia Britannica online to research their Frayer Models. Groups can use any or all sites. The Encyclopedia Britannica is useful for researching a few facts about the capital city of the country. If the class has student atlases or textbook atlases, students may also use these as a resource.

Groups should divide the Frayer Model among four members, with each member researching one section. After researching, all group members should share their information so that everyone can complete their individual Frayer Model handouts. Each group member should also be prepared to participate in the upcoming presentation.

Each group presents its political map on the chart tablet paper, discussing the country's political features. The Frayer Models are to be used to present each part of the map. During presentations, the class audience should take notes. That is, the class members are to find the presenters' country on their own outline map of Europe and Russia and identify and label its capital, water source and bordering countries. They can color their maps with map pencils for homework or at a later time.


Geo-Pictionary: After all presentations are completed, tell students that they will practice drawing the outlines/boundaries and shapes of these countries much as they did with the state of Oklahoma. Allow time for students to study their outline maps and the names and placement of the capitals. The rules for each round of Geo-Pictionary are on slides 9-11.

Round One: Divide the class into three teams. Place the names of all the countries in a basket. There should be twenty-four slips of paper. Randomly pick one student from team one to come to the board. As the artist, the student will draw the outline of the country on the board while the rest of the team tries to guess the country. Set the online stopwatch to three minutes and start it once the artist begins drawing. The team gets only three guesses within that three-minute time period. If team one does not get the correct answer, team two can steal but gets only one guess. If team two is incorrect, team three gets one chance to steal. Continue with the three-minute rule until all eight countries have been drawn three times.

Round Two: This time place only two copies of each country name in the basket. Continue playing and drawing the countries but with lesser time for drawing and guessing. Set the stopwatch to two minutes for round two. Each team now has only one guess for their drawing. Teams can steal but with only one guess. If no one guesses correctly, no one gets the point.

Round Three: To receive more points, call on each team randomly and ask them the name of the capital for each country. For example, say to team one, "Tell me the capital of France." If team one does not answer correctly, the next team can answer correctly and steal the point. Then, question teams using the capital as the stem. Say, "Paris is the capital of..." Continue until all eight countries and their capitals have been queried in this manner at least twice.


Students should be evaluated on their political map presentations using the rubric provided. They should also be assessed on the completion of the outline maps and Frayer Model.