Mapmaking is such an exciting project for children. Not only is your child learning the
geography of Iraq 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 Iraq.
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 Iraq by outlining Iraq and cutting it out for your children to trace around- or they can freehand draw Iraq on their maps)
Begin by looking at an atlas and ask your children to locate Iraq on the world map. Make a note that it is in Asia. Then look at a map of Iraq. Notice bordering countries and name them out loud. Ask your children if they can find the capital of Iraq (Baghdad).
Explain to your children that Iraq is a very historic region, and that one of the very first civilizations formed in Iraq. Point to the two large rivers and tell your children that they are the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. Explain to them that thousands of years ago people called the land between these two rivers Mesopotamia, which means “the land between two rivers.”
Note: We just completed this country study. Because I know we are beginning ancient history next year, I used this as an opportunity to help my children become familiar with the region.
Have your children make an outline of Iraq on their paper that includes the surrounding land. In other words, don’t make it look like an island. It is important that children know which regions border water or land.
Have your children outline all land around Iraq with the India ink pen. If they can, ask them to draw in the bordering countries. Have them label Iraq and locate the capital city of Baghdad and label it as well. Ask them to label the surrounding countries. Now have them watercolor Iraq any color they want, the surrounding land grey to show that we are not focusing on it, and the oceans blue.
Rivers, Lakes, and Gulfs:
Click on this link or use your atlas to locate the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Explain to your children that for thousands of years, the people who have lived in this region have depended on these rivers. Then have them draw and label them on their maps using a blue colored pencil.
Click on this link to see the two largest lakes in Iraq. They are called buhayrat al- Tharthar, and buhayrat Razazah (buhayrat means sea in arabic, but it can double as lake). Have your children draw and label them on their maps.
Use the link above to locate the Persian Gulf. Explain to your children that the Persian Gulf becomes the Arabian Sea, which becomes the Indian Ocean. Use this link to show that.
Use this link to locate the Zagros Mountains, which spread from southern Turkey all the way down the western border of Iran. Have your children label the Zagros Mountains using upside down V’s in brown colored pencil.
Click on this link. The entire western border that shows a somewhat hazy dotted texture is a desert. It is referred to sometimes by parts; the northern part of the desert being called the Syrian desert and the southern either the Iraqi or Arabian desert. I have most often seen it being called the Syro-Arabian desert, so that is what we titled ours. Use a brown pencil to shade the desert region a little darker than the rest of the map and label it.
Use this link to locate some of Iraq’s major cities. Have your children label some of them on their maps. Notice how to this day, the populated areas are still clustered around the two rivers.
Add a compass rose, a map key, and title your map. You are finished!