Kathy Babini is currently the Social Studies Department
Head for the Plymouth Public Schools. Prior to this she
served the Watertown Public Schools as K-5 Social Studies
Specialist. A teaching veteran for over twenty-years, she
taught Geography in the Plymouth Public Schools 1983-1998.
She is the Massachusetts Geography Bee Coordinator,
President of the Southeastern Mass. Geographic Network, and
serves on the board of the Mass. Geographic Alliance. In
1993 she was named Social Studies Middle School Teacher of
the Year by the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies
and in 1998 was chosen as one of the Global Educators of the
Year by the Global Education Consortium. Her most recent
honor was selection by the Massachusetts Council for the
Social Studies as Supervisor of the Year 2001-02.
An example of her use of Massachusetts maps in a
classroom lesson is shared below.
Title: Massachusetts Patterns
Objective: Students will be able to make
correlations between different maps of
Standards: History/Social Science
Materials Publisher: The Massachusetts
Atlas; Student Guide, Thomas Sherer Jr./ Kilderatlas
- Make overheads of the following maps from the Atlas:
Mass.Outline; Population Distribution; Rivers, Lakes
and Ponds; Topography; and Expressways.
- As a warm up, use outline map and label bordering
states and bodies of water.
- Use Population Distribution map and ask students to
identify what part of the state has
the greater amount of the population.
Ask students to identify the major urban
centers (Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Fall River,
- View "Rivers, Lakes and Ponds" and ask students to
comment on the location of the bodies of water.
Overlay the Population map and ask students to make a
correlation between the bodies of water and the
population distribution. See if students can
identify reasons why some of the major cities
developed in their specific location.
- View Topography map and ask students what information
about the topography of the state they can find out
using this map. Ask what they know about the landforms of
the state. Can they identify any regions (coast,
Berkshires etc)? Overlay the population
map and ask students to make a correlation between
population distribution and topography.
- View the Expressways map. Ask students to make
a correlation between the
Transportation systems and the Population
Assessment: Ask students to write a brief summary
of the information they received and give reasons for the
Quick Tips Using Local Maps:
- When starting a unit on map reading, use maps of your
town. Have students learn about the grid system by trying
to locate their school, hospital, library and even their
- Using an idea from the Geography Awareness Week
Packet from 1997, instead of using
the pictures and maps they provided, I took pictures
of easily recognizable places in my town, and using
street maps, students were asked to identify that
DIRECTION I was facing when I took the picture. They
had to locate the place on a map and give directions to
it from our school.
- Create a "Search" game for your town. Our town
had a lot of ponds. I created "Pond Search"
and asked students to identify a pond... named after a
color, a profession, a type of vegetation, a fish,
a geometric shape... They same activity could be
done with street names.
- When studying about waterways, two great
Massachusetts stories to use are Letting Swift
River Go , by Jane Yolan about the building of the
Quabbin Reservior and A River Ran Wild by Lynne
Cherry, an Environmental History of the Nashua
- Ask students to identify the year their house was
built. Plot this on a town map, using a
different color or code for each decade. Can
students see patterns forming? Is their a reason
why the older homes are in a particular part
of town? Factories? Churches? etc.