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Here is a map of the United States that you can use all year. It shows international and state boundaries, capitals and other major cities, bodies of water, and national parks.

The map is color-coded to show land elevation [in feet above sea level]. It also shows lines of latitude and longitude.

Study the map, then answer the following questions.


1. Which state is located farthest south?

2. Which states border Mexico?

3. What is the capital of Virginia?

4. What is the approximate distance in miles between Chicago and Charleston, West Virginia?

5. What does the red dotted line represent?

6. Which mountains are higher, the Appalachians or the Rockies?

7. Which state has the highest average elevation?

8. What are the latitude and longitude of New Orleans, Louisiana?

9. The Ohio River flows into which larger river?

10. Which mountain chain crosses the Eastern states?

* Bonus question: Which of the Great Lakes does not border Canada?

1. Hawaii

2. California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas

3. Richmond

4. 400 miles

5. Continental Divide

6. Rockies

7. Colorado

8. 30[degrees]N, 90[degrees]W

9. Mississippi River

10. Appalachian Mountains

Bonus: Lake Michigan

* Objectives

Students should be able to:

* read and understand a land-elevation map.

* Words to Know

* Continental Divide: a continent's "backbone" (highest region), which divides the direction of waterways. In North America, rivers flow into the Pacific Ocean on the Divide's west side, and into the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico on its east side.

* Llano Estacado: Spanish for "Staked Plains"; a large, flat, dry expanse of land in the Southwest. (The name comes from the stakes set down by early Spanish explorers to keep from getting lost.)

* Background

This map combines the features of political and topographical maps. Referring to it all year will expand and reinforce students' geographic knowledge of the U.S.

* Critical Thinking

USING A MAP KEY: What is the general land elevation in the state where the Mississippi River begins? (1,001 to 5,000 ft, in Minnesota)

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Is your hometown in an area of relatively high or low elevation? How might that have affected early settlers' livelihoods and lifestyles? (Answers will vary.)

* Activity

"VISIT" A NATIONAL PARK: Have students pick a National Park from the map, then learn more about it. (The National Park Service Web site, at, is a good place to start.) Have them imagine visiting that park, and create a display showing what they "saw" there.



* People, places, and environments: A land-elevation map gives users a broader perspective on a place and the physical conditions that affect the people who live there.



* Craughwell, Thomas J., 50 States: Fandex Family Field Guide [Workman Publishing, 1998]. Grades 5-12.

* SparkNotes Editors, U.S. Map [Spark Publishing, 2004]. Grades 6-12.


* Google Maps

* U.S. Map Library

* Decide whether each sentence is true, false, or an opinion. Write your answer on the blank line provided.

--11. The Bitterroot Range is part of the Appalachian Mountains.

--12. Oklahoma's Panhandle borders four states.

--13. Utah has too many national parks.

--14. The Arkansas River is north of the Canadian River.

--15. The Ozark Plateau is higher in elevation than the Colorado Plateau.
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Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Jan 8, 2007
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