WELCOME!     Find what you need

Easy Hack for Teaching Map Directions

If you’re in Ohio and you’re driving to Texas, what direction are you traveling?

Build map skills with easy to make overlays from transparency film!

Sounds easy enough, right? Right? Hello?

Map skills and map directions never really go away; the skills just keep building year after year. Students need a solid foundation to build on, or they remain confused.

So, here is the question again. If you’re in Ohio and you’re driving to Texas, what direction are you traveling?

If your students are like mine, they often struggle with questions like this. I’ve found a simple, easy to implement strategy for building this integral map skill. We’ve has been working with cardinal and intermediate directions lately during social studies.

After studying directions and then spiraling back to it over the last couple of weeks, I noticed that my strugglers were still struggling with directions. The concept was just too abstract. They confused the starting position with the ending position and became confused.

So I made my struggling students a transparent compass rose. How? Easy!


Easy to make overlays to build foundational map skills

Easy-to-Make Overlay

To make this overlay, you need transparency film, a permanent marker, a hole punch, and scissors.

I lightly bent my transparency film into four equal parts. (Yes, it’s hard to bend the transparency film, and yes, you can use a ruler instead!) Try to bend the transparency film so lightly that you won’t leave creases.


Make an overlay to differentiate for students struggling to understand directions
The hardest part is hole punching the center of the transparency piece.
The trick is to bend, not fold, the transparency piece enough to hole punch it. You can see my struggle below. You don’t want to have actual creases in the transparency.
Use overlays to build map skills!
Once the hole is in the center, you can use a permanent marker and a ruler to draw the lines to label the cardinal directions and possibly the intermediate directions.

Differentiate Map Skills With Ease!

You can differentiate these transparent compass roses by using only cardinal directions or by adding intermediate directions. Or you could just add the arrows without providing the actual directions, as well.
Remember that if you simply draw the lines without labeling the directions on the overlay, students still have to understand how to apply and use the directions in order to answer questions correctly. It all depends on the level of differentiation required.
Easy differentiation for struggling students

My Shameless Plug~

If you’re in need of a map skills packet to practice more skills, I just happen to have one available at my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. ☺ Click on the picture below.
Creative Map Skills Project!


What adaptations for map skills have you tried? What works and what doesn’t? I’d love for you to share some thoughts below in the comments!