George Lucas Educational Foundation

Exploring Writing, Social Studies, and Math in a Map Challenge

Encouraging students to bring their creativity and imagination to challenging content makes it more accessible—and helps them learn it more deeply.

November 29, 2023

Each fifth grader in Andrea Ketcham’s class in Eminence, Kentucky, has been charged with creating a world and asking someone else to navigate it. In this interdisciplinary project, students use a range of skills—from spatial awareness and mapmaking to communication skills and coding. To touch on English language arts standards, students use descriptive language to write about their imaginary land. Next, to align with social studies standards, they’re tasked with drawing a map depicting it, complete with key features like grid points and a compass rose. When their maps are complete, the students come up with questions that challenge a classmate to identify characteristics of their land and program a Sphero BOLT robot to follow directions and get to a specific destination. By the end, students have mastered content from multiple subject areas—and stayed engaged and excited through the whole process. 

To learn more about the research behind the practices seen in the video, check out the resources below. 

Schools That Work

Eminence Independent Schools

Public, Rural
Grades K–12
Eminence, KY

Edutopia developed the Making Learning More Playful series with support from The LEGO Foundation.

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Filed Under

  • Interest-Based Learning
  • Creativity
  • Integrated Studies
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies/History
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary
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