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National Geographic Introduces World Atlas for Young Explorers

Share Brand new in 1998 -- and just in time for National Geography Awareness Week -- the National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers. A perfect companion for students of all ages! Included: Education World offers a dozen quick "geography awareness" activities to use with the new atlas!

Clear. Concise. Colorful. Complete.

Atlas Book Cover

Just four adjectives describing four ways in which the National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers stands out from the competition! Four reasons why no classroom should be without a copy!

The National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers is much more than a collection of great maps! Among the special features students will find are:

  • Each continent section is color-coded for easy reference and begins with an image taken from space showing the actual outline of the coast.

  • Full-color photographs from National Geographic photographers show the people, places, and wildlife of each continent, making a clear connection between the atlas and the real world.
  • Fact panels help students quickly find important information about the world's regions, including highest mountains, longest rivers, largest cities, and more.

  • Each country is profiled with its flag and latest data on population, capital, area, and language.

  • Special sections present thematic maps on the world's population, environment, endangered species, climate, vegetation, and transportation.

  • Features are provided on understanding maps and geology.

  • A glossary of geographic terms and a thorough index will help students find any information they need.


Next week, Geography Awareness Week (November 15-21), is a perfect time for school principals to dip into their budgets to find the money to provide every classroom with a copy of this new atlas! What better way to show a commitment to geography education?

Education World is pleased to show its commitment with the following activities keyed to the new National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers. All a teacher needs is a copy of the new atlas. The short activities below are perfect for posting in a geography learning corner. Students can work independently, or in pairs or teams, to complete the activities. The activities connect to many different parts of the atlas, and teach or reinforce all kinds of skills from simple map reading to reading an index.


Using Map Keys and Symbols 1

For this activity, refer to the "How To Use This Atlas" section, pages 6-7.

  1. What picture (or icon) is used on maps to show areas that are favorites among tourists?

  2. Draw a picture of the symbol used on maps to show an area where tea is a major crop.

  3. Which areas on a map are indicated with a + symbol?

  4. Draw a picture to show the map key symbol that indicates "sandy" areas on the map.

  5. What kind of picture shows areas on the map where pollution is a problem?

Using Map Keys and Symbols 2

Use the symbol map of the Midwestern United States on pages 54-55 to answer these questions.

  1. What product is the area around Bismarck (North Dakota) known for?

  2. What is the area around Ashtabula (Ohio) known for?

  3. Is the area around Grand Rapids (Michigan) known more for its manufacturing or its farming?

  4. Name one state that is well-known for its sugar beets.

  5. Name one of the two states on the map that are not well-known for hog farming.

Latitude and Longitude

Read "How To Read a Map" on pages 12-13. Then answer these questions.

   1. Do lines of latitude run on a map from north to south or from east to west?
   2. What's another name for the latitude line at 0 degrees?

Use the world map on pages 26-27 to answer these questions.

   3. Would you find North America or Australia if you traveled along the latitude line at 30 degrees North?
   4. Which African country -- Kenya or Sudan -- is located along the equator?
   5. Does the longitude line at 0 degrees run through South America or Africa?

Continents on the Move

Study the pictures in the atlas (page 16) that show how scientists believe the continents came to drift apart. Then put the four sentences below in order to tell about some events that have taken place on Earth.

   a. An asteroid struck Earth, perhaps somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.
   b. The continents formed a line, or a pileup, called Pangaea.
   c. An Ice Age had lands in the north and south locked under glaciers.
   d. The land pulled apart to form the beginnings of different continents around the time that dinosaurs roamed Earth.

Endangered Species

Use the "Environment and Endangered Species" world map on pages 24-25 to answer these questions.

  1. On which continent does the endangered mountain gorilla live?

  2. Name one of the endangered species found off the east coast of Australia?

  3. Which endangered animal makes its home near the city of Los Angeles in California?

  4. On which continent is the giant armadillo endangered?

  5. Which endangered animal is found in the waters off all of the world's continents?

Population Density

Use the "Population Density" world map and the graph on pages 28-29 to answer these questions.

  1. Which color is used on the map to show areas where many people live -- tan or dark brown?

  2. Are there more areas where many people live in Africa or in Europe?

  3. Do more people live along Australia's east coast or its west coast?

  4. Do more people live along South America's northern tip or its southern tip?

  5. On the graph, how many people are expected to live on Earth in the year 2010?

Transportation and Communication

Use the "Transportation and Communication" maps and the graph on pages 30-31 to answer these questions.

  1. What kind of transportation routes are shown by red lines on the large map?

  2. What kind of transportation routes are shown by red lines on the small map?

  3. If you wanted to fly from Buenos Aires (in South America) to Perth (in Australia), what city in Africa would you likely stop in on the way between those cities?

  4. Use the graph to find out: Are more people hooked up to the Internet in the United States or in Australia?

  5. Use the graph to find out: Are more people hooked up to the Internet in the United States or in Japan?

North America 1

Take a look at the pictures that tell about life in North America (pages 36-39). Then draw a line from each numbered place name in the first column below to the words in the second column that tell something about that place.

1. Times Squarea. its rain forests are home to golden toads
2. Mount McKinley b. shortcut from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific
3. Quebec c. an ancient stone temple in Mexico
4. El Tajin d. home of New York's famous theater district
5. Costa Rica e. Canada's oldest city, has two official languages
6. Panama Canal f. home of the Twin Butte mountains
7. Alberta g. the world's largest gorge
8. Grand Canyon h. also called "Denali," meaning "High One"

North America 2

Use the "North America" map on pages 34-35 to answer these questions.

  1. What is the highest mountain in North America?

  2. Is the Hudson Bay found in the northern part or the southern part of North America?

  3. Are the Sierra Madre mountains in Canada or in Mexico?

  4. What is the largest lake in North America?

  5. Are the Appalachian Mountains closer to the east coast or the west coast of the United States?

The Seven Continents

Look at the pictures on the title page (pages 2-3) of the atlas. Match each continent name to the picture that is used to show something about that continent. (If you aren't sure of the answers, read the atlas sections about the continents to find out.)

1. Africa a. brightly lit theaters
2. Antarctica b. a woman and daughter with a llama
3. Asia c. a castle high in the hills
4. Australia d. the desert
5. Europe e. many people on bikes on a city street
6. North America f. a big-city opera house along the ocean
7. South America g. a man with a penguin

Using a Glossary

Use the glossary on page 161 of the atlas. Match each word below with its meaning.

1. archipelago a. distance north or south of the equator
2. capeb. a flat area, above the surrounding land
3. plateauc. a group or chain of islands
4. savannad. a tropical grassland with scattered trees
5. strait e. land that extends into an ocean, lake, or river
6. latitudef. a break in the earth's crust
7. faultg. narrow waterway connecting larger bodies of water

Using an Index

Use the atlas index on pages 162-175 to answer these questions. (Note: Page numbers appear in bold type in the index.)

  1. On which page would you find a map of Delaware Bay?

  2. On which page would you look to find information about Waterford, Ireland?

  3. How many different cities names Springfield appear in the index?

  4. On which pages can you find information about Massachusetts?

  5. On how many different pages can you find information about the Nile River?


Using Map Keys and Symbols

1. a camera; 2. a teacup (with the letter "T" on it); 3. areas of high elevation (mountains); 4. many little dots; 5. a can spilling something that looks like oil.

Using Map Keys and Symbols 2

1. cattle; 2. fruits; 3. manufacturing; 4. Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, or Ohio; 5. Michigan or Wisconsin.

Latitude and Longitude

1. east to west; 2. the equator; 3. North America; 4. Kenya; 5. Africa.

Continents on the Move


Endangered Species

1. Africa; 2. the hawksbill sea turtle (or the blue whale); 3. the California condor; 4. South America; 5. the blue whale.

Population Density

1. dark brown; 2. Europe; 3. east coast; 4. northern tip; 5. 6.903 billion people.

Transportation and Communication

1. roads; 2. air routes; 3. Johannesburg; 4. the United States; 5. Japan.

North America 1

1.d, 2.h, 3.e, 4.c, 5.a, 6.b, 7.f, 8.g.

North America 2

1. Mount McKinley (Denali); 2. the northern part of North America; 3. Mexico; 4. Lake Superior; 5. the east coast of the United States.

The Seven Continents

1.d, 2.g, 3.e, 4.f, 5.c, 6.a, 7.b.

Using a Glossary

1.c, 2.e, 3.b, 4.d, 5.g, 6.a, 7.f.

Using an Index

1. page 57; 2. page 92; 3. 4 cities; 4. pages 45 and 59; 5. 5 pages.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1998 Education World

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