Mapmaking is such an exciting project for children. Not only is your child learning the geography of Italy in a much more memorable way than fill in the blank maps, but also she is learning an 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.
Materials needed: A cutout of Italy you made in preparation (sketch Italy on a large piece of paper (we use 12 x 18) and cut it out for your children to trace) large watercolor paper, colored pencils, watercolors, waterproof India ink black pen, atlas or computer.
Day 1: Begin
Begin by looking at an atlas of Europe with your children. Have them locate Italy on the map. Ask them what they think it looks like (a boot). Ask them to find the capitol city (Rome). Have them name the surrounding countries.
Using your previously prepared cutout of Italy, have your children trace the country onto their page, centering it as much as possible.
Have them title their map, “Italy.”
Outline all of the land in India ink and then outline Italy’s borders.
Watercolor Italy green (or any color you would like), the surrounding countries grey, and the waters blue. Label Italy, Sicily, and any surrounding countries that show up on your map (France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia).
Draw a compass rose on the map.
Day 2: Large Bodies of Water
Look on a Map with your children and locate the Mediterranean Sea. Have your children label it on their map.
Now notice the smaller seas (The Ligurian Sea, The Tyrrhenian Sea, The Ionian Sea, The Adriatic Sea). Have your children label them on their map.
Notice the most visible gulfs around Italy ( The Gulf of Venice, The Gulf of Taranto, Gulf of Genova). Have your children label them on their map.
Between Italy and Sicily there is a narrow strip of water. That is called a strait. This particular strait is called the Strait of Messina. Have your children label it.
Day 3: Major Cities and The Vatican City
Find Rome and label it as the capitol city by making a star in a circle. Then find Naples, Milan, Florence, Pisa, and Venice on the map. Have your children label them on their map. After you learn about Italy, you can draw in little icons of landmarks next to the cities (Such as a gondola next to Venice).
Find The Vatican City. Explain to your children that this is actually an independent state and it is the smallest independent state in the world. Have your children label it on their map.
To read more about The Vatican City click here.
Day 4: Rivers and lakes
Click here for a reference river map of Italy. Using a blue colored pencil, have your children draw the major rivers of Italy on their map and label them with their India ink pen.
There is a cluster of lakes in Northern Italy in the Lake District. The largest lakes are Garda, Maggiore, Como, Trasimero, Bolsena. Click here to see them on a map. Have your children draw them on their map.
Day 5: Mountain Ranges
There are two major mountain ranges in Italy. The Apennine, which runs down the entire peninsula, and the Alps, which are in the north. This map shows the two major ranges. Have your children make little upside down Vs to indicate mountains all along the two ranges and label them.
Locate Mount Vesuvius on the Map and label it. Draw a little volcano icon next to it.
Make a map key-
Use upside down Vs to symbolize mountains, a blue line to symbolize rivers, and a circle with a star inside to symbolize the capital city.