Mapmaking is such an exciting project for children. Not only is your child learning the geography of Australia in a much more memorable way than fill in the blank maps, but she is learning a historic art form. I find that my children truly learn and retain their geography when they create their own maps, as they are having a visual, kinesthetic, and artistic experience while learning the geography of the region. Here is how we approached mapping Australia.
Materials: watercolor paper (we use 11 x 17) waterproof India ink pen, watercolors, colored pencils, an atlas or computer for reference maps
(Prepare a cutout in the shape of Australia by outlining Australia and cutting it out for your children to trace around- older children can freehand draw Australia on their maps)
Begin by looking at a world map. Find Australia on the map. Make a note that Australia is the only continent that is also a country.
Have your children locate the capital city of Australia (Canberra).
Now have your children trace Australia onto their paper using the cut out you made (or have them draw it freehand). Then have them go over the pencil outline with the black India ink pen. Now they may watercolor Australia any color they wish, and the surrounding waters blue.
When the watercolor dries, ask them to label their map, “Australia,” and also label the capital city of Canberra, using a star with a circle around it for a symbol.
Oceans, Seas, Rivers, and Lakes:
Click here for a map of Australia’s waters. Help your children to locate the surrounding seas and oceans; The Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, the Tasman Sea, and the Coral Sea. Have them label the oceans and seas on their maps.
The Darling and Murray are the largest rivers in Australia. Help your children locate them on the map and then draw them on their maps using a blue colored pencil. Then ask them to label the rivers.
Locate Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens. These are Australia’s largest lakes. Have your children color them on their maps using a blue colored pencil and then label them.
Deserts and Mountains:
Click here for a desert map of Australia. The two largest deserts are the Great Victorian Desert and the Great Sandy Desert. Using a brownish colored pencil, have your children shade the desert region on their maps and label them. We just showed the two largest deserts, but your children are welcome to label all of them if they wish.
The Great Dividing Range is a large mountain range in Australia that extends almost the entire length of the west coast from north to south. Click here to see the Great Dividing Range on a map. Using a brown colored pencil, have your children draw in the Great Dividing Range using upside down V’s. Then have them label the range.
Click here to see a map of Australia’s cities. Have your children label a few of Australia’s major cities (Sidney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Darwin, Broome, Perth, and Adelaide).
Have your children add a compass rose and a map key and they are finished!