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Using A Texas Zip Code Map in the Classroom

Jun 8, 2008
In today's classroom, it seems as though the subject of geography and the study of maps is becoming lower and lower on the priority list of curricula. It's especially noticeable when it comes to understanding map symbols and learning to read them. Pull out a Texas zip code map, and many high schoolers would not be able to get to one town to another using just the map. Of course, give them access to the Internet or a GPS and all bets are off.

Although it seems that technology may be phasing out physical maps and atlases, the pictorial form of maps will always be around in one way or another. Even online driving directions include a visual map to get a feel for actual route the directions will take you and most GPS systems do the same. It's ironic, since many people are uncomfortable charting a course from a map, yet still want that same course plotted for them visually via a GPS. And really, something like a Texas zip code map isn't all that different.

Comprehending maps, legends, keys and the symbols associated with them will always play an important part in a child's education, even with technological advances. For both educational and safety purposes, a child needs to know their own area, neighborhood and landmarks. Not to mention the fact that learning how to give directions is a huge part of American language and culture and map reading is important part of basic literacy skills for a child.

For the elementary classroom, atlases tend to have too many details and confusing boundaries and symbols to be easy to teach. Something simple like a Texas zip code map is probably the best bet for young students. For a state as big as Texas, simpler the better. Most zip code maps of Texas will include major roads and landmarks as well as zip code boundaries marked in different colors.

There are many sites online that have Texas and other zip code maps available for download, both for free and for purchase. Of course, as the age old adage goes, nothing in life is free, so the free zip code map downloads are usually less detailed and lower quality then those you can purchase for about $10 to $20. The best thing about purchasing a Texas zip code map online is that you get it instantly, with no printing fees and no shipping and handling.

After purchasing a map, it's up to a teacher to decide whether to print it or just show it on a projector. You can either print low quality copies right at school, or get better prints by paying out of pocket to have them done at a local copier. Of course, using a projector hooked up to a computer or an overhead transparency is cheaper. It's also more eco-friendly - always a good lesson for children.

Map reading needs to be including in all classrooms, whether it's from an atlas or a simple Texas zip code map. Basic map reading could be just as useful and important for kids to know as learning their own phone number and address in case of an emergency. It will help them become familiar with their area, as well as boost their literacy and certain communication skills. Either way, the use of some type of map in a classroom is a great learning experience for all children.
About the Author
About the Author: Clara Ryken is a cartography and map guru at ZipCodeGuy. You can find out more about a Texas zip code map and state and county maps at ZipcodeGuy.com.
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