We all know that I love maps. Seriously. Love. Maps.
I still remember spending hours in the cool basement in my western Kansas childhood home reading old National Geographic magazines, spreading the pull-out maps on the floor and using my finger to trace over map features. My favorite? Civil War battle articles with sweet map extras.
It was easy to lose a couple of hours digging into the details, comparing areas on one map with another, reading the sidebars.
Take a look at these and you’ll understand.
And, yes, those are photos taken from my original 100th Gettysburg anniversary July 1963 issue of National Geographic. I told you I’m a map nerd. What did you expect?
But it’s more than just old maps. Though these are very cool, National Geographic has done a great job of creating new map versions that take advantage of the powerful capabilities of the World Wide Tubes and offer you the opportunity to create your own interactive map.
So if you haven’t had the chance to try out NatGeo’s MapMaker Interactive, you are missing out.
The tool is designed to let you and your students quickly create their own high-quality maps and then easily share them with others.
You start with a wide map view with the capability to zoom in to street level and drag from one area to another. On the top right right corner of the map, you can select a variety of map types including topo, satellite, streets, terrain, one page grey, and traditional (my favorite) National Geographic style. You’ll also find editing tools that give you the ability to add labels, drawings, and markers.
On the left hand side are what NatGeo calls Themes. Based on the five themes of geography, you can select physical or human geographic features – turning on and overlapping a variety of different layers that let your students create a wide variety of final map products.
Once you’ve finished your map, you have the ability to:
- print your map
- save as an image
- save as an editable XML file
- share on a variety of social media sites
- email it
- save the URL
I like that I can also make the editing screen full screen. I don’t like that I can’t do a search for a specific place or turn off default place names. I do like that I can download one page black and white masters at the bottom of the page.