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CareerStart lessons: Grade six

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This lesson should be conducted following your unit on South America. Students will work with a partner to conduct research into the natural and man-made resources of a particular country in South America. The students create a map of the country illustrating its resources — an activity that helps them synthesize what they’ve learned in the classroom and in their independent research.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will research the resources of South American countries.
  • Students will create a map of a South American country illustrating its natural and man-made resources.
  • Students will discuss the jobs involved in producing the resources of South American countries as well as careers that create and use maps.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Student handouts:
    • Countries of South America handout
    • Map of South America
    • Resources handout
  • Posterboard
  • Markers
  • Overhead projector and overhead pen
  • Optional: Access to the internet for student research

Time required for lesson

Approximately 130 minutes
Library time may be needed.


  1. After completing your unit on South America, conduct a class discussion about the continent’s natural and man-made resources. (10-15 min.)
  2. Guided Practice: As a class, use the handout to make a list of all the countries of South America. Then provide a couple of examples of natural and man-made resources that can be found in these countries. After this discussion, put students into pairs and assign each group a country from South America. (15 min.)
  3. Write the following words and definitions on the board or overhead:
    Cartographers compile geographic, political, and cultural information, and prepare maps of large areas.
    Land surveyor
    Surveyors measure distances, directions, and angles between points. They also measure elevations of points, lines, and contours on, above, and below the earth’s surface.

    Explain to students how land surveyors and cartographers work together to create maps. (For background information on these careers, see “supplemental information” below.) (10 min.)

  4. Independent Practice: Have each pair of students act as cartographers, preparing a map of the assigned country that illustrates its natural and man-made resources. Instruct students to use symbols to mark these resources and to create a map key that explains their symbols. Students may use their textbook, the library, or the Internet to find information about a country’s resources. (60 min.)
  5. When the maps are finished, have students display them to the class and explain what resources are found in their assigned country. (20 min.)
  6. To close the activity, ask the class to brainstorm the jobs involved in producing the resources for the countries of South America. These may include jobs in farming, mining, and manufacturing. Finally, lead a discussion about careers in which people create or use maps. Discuss the different types of maps that are available. For example, a captain of a ship uses a nautical map; airplane pilots use aerial maps, etc. (15 min.)


Assess students according to the following guidelines:

  • 40% = Accuracy of map
  • 30% = Creativity and neatness of map
  • 20% = Presentation of map
  • 10% = Class discussion

Supplemental information

For background information on careers in surveying and cartography, see the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook for Surveyors and Occupational Outlook Handbook for Cartographers.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 6

  • Goal 1: The learner will use the five themes of geography and geographic tools to answer geographic questions and analyze geographic concepts.
    • Objective 1.01: Create maps, charts, graphs, databases, and models as tools to illustrate information about different people, places and regions in South America and Europe.
    • Objective 1.03: Use tools such as maps, globes, graphs, charts, databases, models, and artifacts to compare data on different countries of South America and Europe and to identify patterns as well as similarities and differences among them.
  • Goal 4: The learner will identify significant patterns in the movement of people, goods and ideas over time and place in South America and Europe.
    • Objective 4.02: Identify the main commodities of trade over time in selected areas of South America and Europe, and evaluate their significance for the economic, political and social development of cultures and regions.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • 7.G.2 Apply the tools of a geographer to understand modern societies and regions. 7.G.2.1 Construct maps, charts, and graphs to explain data about geographic phenomena (e.g. migration patterns and population and resource distribution patterns). 7.G.2.2 Use...