Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Interactives -- United States History Map Pick another interactive:

From Sea to Shining Sea


In order to understand the geography of the United States and how it has influenced the history of the country, it's important to know how to read and interpret a map.

Two items that you will see on many maps are the compass rose and the legend.
Compass Rose The Compass Rose

The compass rose is a design, often with decorations, to show direction. Usually, north is at the top, south is at the bottom, east is on the right, and west is on the left. The directions are commonly abbreviated to their first letters, for example "E" for "east."

The compass rose can be divided further to show more directions: northeast for the area between north and east; northwest for the area between north and west; southeast for the area between south and east; southwest for the area between south and west.
Legend The Legend

The legend, or key, can be used to understand the symbols included on the map. Symbols such as lines, colors, or pictures are often used in maps to represent geographical features, such as lakes, rivers, or mountains. They can also be used to represent borders between countries, cities, capitals, and other manmade landmarks. Samples of common map symbols are shown in the legend at right.
The first map of the United States that you'll need to become familiar with is the one below, which shows the country's important geographic features, such as lakes, rivers, and mountain ranges. Examine it closely since you'll need to know the locations of these features for this chapter and the ones that follow.

Because two states, Alaska and Hawaii, are located so far away from the continental United States (the other 48 states), they will be shown in separate boxes on the bottom left in most of the maps in this interactive.

Map of the major geographic features of the U.S.
Next: Play Find the Feature

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