Earth Day: Maps as media - Lesson Lesson Plan

Level: Grades 4 to 6

About the Author: Thierry Plante, Media Education Specialist, MediaSmarts

Duration: 45 to 90 minutes

Media Representation icon from the digital media literacy framework.

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson, students are introduced to Earth Day and the theme of “Green Cities”. After listening to a short presentation on the concept of a “green city” and elements that constitute a green city (e.g. renewable energy sources such as solar panels, more energy-efficient buildings, recycling programs, cleaner air and water) students participate in an activity where they count the number of parks on a map of their city or neighbourhood. Maps are then analyzed as a medium as students discuss how they are created, things they can and can’t show, and their effectiveness at communicating environmental information.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • understand the constructed and aesthetic elements of maps
  • understand that a “free” product may have strings attached
  • understand how the aesthetic qualities of a medium influence the information that is transmitted
  • understand that media products may serve multiple purposes
  • understand how to critically evaluate a map as a source of information
  • apply their understanding of media as constructions with a specific aesthetic form through the creation of a map containing green city indicators (optional task)

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.

Lesson Kit