Interrupted Migrations Unit Driving Question: How can human activities help or hinder animal migrations?

Mapping Human Interruptions to Migration Lesson Driving Question: How has human activity changed the environment?


1. Introduce mapping techniques to students.

  • In this activity, students create maps of their geographic areas that will become their game boards. To introduce mapping techniques, show students the North American Species Migration Map.
  • Have students discuss the map in their groups by answering the following questions:
      • What features stand out to you on this map?
      • Why are those features important?
      • Think about your geographic area. What important features would you want to include on your maps?


2. Prepare groups to use MapMaker Kits to create boards for their games.

  • Provide each group with the printed pages from the United States Tabletop Map Part 1 and the United States Tabletop Map Part 2 from the United States MapMaker Kit. Have students use the printed PDFs (there are 16 pieces total) to create their tabletop map.
  • Have students use Google Maps or an atlas to locate their focal geographic area on their region map and draw a bright border around it on their tabletop map.
  • Then, have groups use their Geographic Area Information Sheets and summary paragraphs from the Geography Matters activity to add additional features to their maps. Each map should include:
      • A border for their geographic focus area
      • A key
      • Cardinal points
      • Political boundaries labeled
      • Major cities labeled
      • Watershed and waterways (if applicable) labeled
  • Next, have groups use their completed Human Impact Cards (Set 1 and Set 2) and Google Earth to visually explore their focus area more closely. In their groups, have students complete the following on their map:
      • Identify at least five human activities that could threaten animal migration.
      • Mark each human activity site on their map and include a brief description of the activity and its impact.  

3. Guide groups through informal peer assessment of their maps.

  • Once the maps are complete, have each group use the Initial Game Board Design Checklist to ensure they have all the required elements.
  • Then, have groups pair up and use the same checklist to give informal feedback on another group's map.


4. Revisit the Know and Need to Know chart.

  • As a class, revisit the Know and Need to Know chart started in the Intersecting Actions activity. Read through the Need to Knows and put a checkmark next to the points that students have learned throughout this first lesson.
  • Elicit any new Need to Knows that have surfaced for students. Guide students to think about what they will need to know in order to be successful in completing their unit project. Add these new ideas to the chart.

Informal Assessment

Initial Game Board Design Checklist: Use the checklist to assess whether groups have included the specified geographic information and whether their map demonstrates an understanding of each component.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Geography
  • Social Studies

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Locate and identify human impacts on a particular geographic area of the United States.
  • Create a map of key geographic features and human developments in a particular area of the United States.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Hands-on learning
  • Research
  • Self-directed learning

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7:  Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

  • D2.Geo.1.6-8.:  Construct maps to represent and explain the spatial patterns of cultural and environmental characteristics.

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Colored pencils
  • Markers
  • Sticky notes

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per pair

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction
  • Small-group work

Background Information

As a field of study, regional geography is focused on what is unique about the social and environmental relationships that occur in specific locations. Conservationists map migratory paths in particular regions and can sometimes learn about global migration patterns by focusing on those that occur regionally. By studying animal migration in various regions it is possible to see how and why animals might move across or between regions during their migratory journeys. Some conservationists focus, in particular, on how human impacts in a region may negatively impact animal migration.

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities



natural or artificial line separating two pieces of land.

cardinal direction

one of the four main points of a compass: north, east, south, west.


an explanation of symbols and abbreviations used on a map, also known as a legend.


symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.


making and using maps.

map symbol

representation of one piece of data displayed as part of a larger representation of spatial information.

political boundary

imaginary line separating one political unit, such as a country or state, from another.


any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

regional geography

branch of geography devoted to the study of characteristics of a specific region.


entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries.


body of water that serves as a route for transportation.