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Learning about social studies and reading a map can be so much fun for your students that they’ll forget they’re learning. Want to know how?

Your upper elementary students will forget they’re learning social studies and map reading skills when you make it fun. We all want our students to learn and master skills such as reading a map and identifying regions and landforms. But if it’s as dry as a desert, nobody is going to learn a thing. Read on for fun inducing ideas.

A child reading a map in front of some mountains

Teaching Social Studies at the Beginning of the School Year

The first things upper elementary teachers are teaching in social studies at the start of the academic year are:

I don’t know about you, but just reading that list gave me EGO. That’s my acronym for Eyes Glazed Over. 🙂

Definitely the textbook is going to be the backbone of your lessons. But if you can spice it up a bit with some extra video and activities, why not? If you can finish with a game show that gets all of your students engaged, even better! What if the game show had a Pirate Treasure theme?

How many of your students would want to do that?

Pirate Treasure Themed Game Show for Reading a Map

A map reading game show with a pirate parrot on top of the laptop.

Let’s start with the game show. It’s the end of your map reading unit, but still, let’s talk about it first. You eat dessert first, sometimes, right?

You could create your own game show and tailor it perfectly to all of your lessons. Let me tell you friend, back in the day, (around 2004), I used a giant science display board with library pockets and index cards to make my own game show!

Whew! I’m so glad we have computers to project slideshows that are just like the popular Jeopardy-style game show now! But they still take hours to create.

So, I created one for you!

Why is the Game Show Pirate Themed?

Don’t you love pirates! The adventure, the excitement! We did a pirate themed party for my son’s 6th birthday, and it was a blast! Right now, pirates are the current thing, so it’s definitely something your students will love. 

Who doesn’t love hunting for pirate treasure?

This game show has students searching on map grids for jewels, coins, the stars for the pirates to navigate, and even a lost pirate hat.

Have fun teaching map reading skills with a fun pirate treasure game in social studies!
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Five Map Skills Covered

Here are some of the features of this map skills game. 

Students have color -coded questions about:

The questions have four multiple-choice options. 

Each question is worth $100 to $500 in pirate dollars!

They can play in teams or individually. The presentation makes them return to a question they missed until they can answer it correctly. 

I guarantee your students will love this game! If you celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th, this game fits right into your line up of activities.

These are the same skills that are taught in my Map Skills Reading a Map unit. The game show is a perfect culminating activity to this map skills product.

Map Skills Reading a Map Social Studies Unit

Map Skills listed and standards with a background of a tablet with a lesson on it.

The 75 page resource helps you teach how to read a map, use map tools, and interpret academic vocabulary related to maps and globes, such as the Equator, Prime Meridian, and GPS. The compass rose includes cardinal directions and intermediate directions.

This social studies resource has close reading, text annotations, academic vocabulary.

This packet also has Battleship-style games, and crossword puzzles.

Together they make a great addition to your social studies curriculum. If you’re lacking a current curriculum, you could even use these as a stand-alone unit. 

You can click on these images to see the previews and find out more about these fun products for teaching social studies map reading skills.

Two pages of a map reading lesson on a blue and teal background.


A map skills game on a computer with a teal and blue background.


If you like these ideas, please share this post with a friend!

Thanks a million!


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