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Edible Resource Map!

Teacher Lesson


Before preparing or distributing any food in the classroom, make sure you are aware of children's allergies or dietary restrictions and caution children about choking hazards.


  • Social Science: Geography


3-5, 6-8

Brief Description

Focus students on the resources found in different parts of the United States (or the world). Students create food symbols to represent those resources, add those symbols to large sugar cookies shaped like the United States, and create separate map keys.



  • identify the major resources of each region.
  • use critical thinking skills to plan a map key comprised of edible things.
  • make sugar cookies shaped like a U.S. resource map.


geography, map, map key, resource, United States

Materials Needed

  • map of the United States to use as template for cookies
  • 3- by 5-inch index cards
  • paper towels (for laying the cookies on and clean up)
  • ingredients for making sugar cookies shaped like the United States (one cookie per group of three or four students)
  • food items to represent the resources of your choice (pretzels represent wood, etc.)
  • if students do not provide materials for their map keys, then the teacher might provide a variety of potential materials, such as marshmallows (to represent cotton), chocolate chips (to represent coal), white chocolate chips (dairy products), goldfish crackers (fish), popcorn (corn), etc.
  • frosting to "glue" resources on
  • books, Internet resources, and other materials for students to use as they research the resources of a region or state

Lesson Plan

Begin the lesson by discussing with your students what resource maps are and sharing some sample maps from geography books and library resources. Ask students to help you make a list of the kinds of resources that are found on a resource map, such as cotton, coal, wheat, apples, and oil.

In this activity, students will work with classmates to create an edible resource map of the United States. (Older students might create world resource maps.) Students might work independently on the activity, or you could organize them into pairs or groups of three or four. If students work in groups, each group might be responsible for a different region of the country. Students should use online and/or library resources to research major resources.

After each group completes its research, students can share information with the class. Create a class chart for students to use as they do the next part of the activity.

Give each student or group a copy of the map that is the same size as the cookie they will create (or you will provide). On the paper maps, students create blueprints of what their cookies will look like. Emphasize to students that they will not want to overload their maps or put a food item in every state -- for example, they won't put a piece of popcorn in every state that has corn as one of its resources. If they put a piece of popcorn near the Iowa-Nebraska border, they might draw a piece of popcorn in that area on the map. This is your first major opportunity to see whether you need to re-teach any part of the lesson before the students work on the actual cookies.

After the blueprint maps have been completed and approved, groups can create their legends or map keys. Give each group enough index cards for all the resources they are including. Students will glue one food item to the index card and write next to it the natural resource that the item represents. For example, they would glue on a white chocolate chip and write = dairy products.

Now students are ready to create their cookie map, using the blueprint maps as their guide. They use small amounts of frosting to "glue" the food to the cookies as you offer assistance.

Assess the maps by verifying that resources are placed in the correct areas on the cookies. When you complete the inspection, let the students in each group divide the cookie into its parts and enjoy an edible snack!

Notes: This lesson took approximately three days for us to complete. To save myself some expense, I asked the students to volunteer to bring in some of the food items. The most challenging part of the activity was creating the U.S. cookies. I used two tubes of pre-made sugar cookie dough to make six cookies. My students absolutely loved this lesson! I could ask any of my students what a resource map is and, because of this memorable lesson, he or she would tell me what it is and what some of our country's major resources are.


Teacher observation and discussion.

Submitted By

Nichole Stoltze, Schleswig Community School, Schleswig, Iowa


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