The Topic: 

Easier - A map is a drawing that shows where things are located. For example, a map of the Earth's surface shows continents, countries, cities, mountains, oceans, lakes, rivers, and other features. Maps are also made of places such as the moon, planets, and the universe. Most maps show a place looking down on it from above.
Maps are used for many purposes. They can show all kinds of information such as populations, historical information, climate, products, and natural features.
Harder - A map is a visual representation of a place on a flat surface. There are many types of maps. Political maps show how people have divided up the earth's surface. Physical maps focus on the land and water formations on the surface of the Earth. Cultural maps show information about people such as population, education, recreation, and other facts.
Because the Earth is round, it's difficult to show a flat version. Projections are based on grids and can show the globe as a map. When creating a projection, mapmakers need to be concerned about area, direction, distance, and shape. There are many types of map projections including conic, interrupted, cylindrical, azimuthal, and oval.
The distance on a map relative to the Earth's surface is called scale. It's important that a map has an accurate scale.
 Cartography is the art of making maps or charts. Mapmakers are also called cartographers.
Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map
Discover the history of maps and learn how to make your own.
Finding Your Way with Map and Compass
Learn how to use topographic maps and a compass to figure out where things are and how to get to them.
Related Website:
2) Compass Use in Orienteering
Latitude: The Science of Sailing the World
Find out everything you need to know about the history of ocean navigation and mapmaking in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Related Websites:
2) Longitude and Latitude 
3) Understanding Latitude at Sailing thru Science...
Maps & Globes
Explore information, quizzes, and projects having to do with maps and globes developed with the USGS and the Department of Education.

Choose a project and use the websites to solve the problem or complete the activity.
Try Your Hand At Map Coloring. Young learners can visit Young Map Colorer. Print out some of the maps and see if you can correctly color them with four or less colors.
Create A Map. Create a map of your community. Get some ideas on mapmaking at Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map and Map of Your Community. You may want to use the software found at Online Map Creation. Write step-by-step directions for getting from one place to another. Ask others to follow your directions. Or you could make a fictional map for a story. Get some good ideas at Fantasy Mapmaking 101.
Master the Use of A Compass. Learn to use a compass using the directions from the Compass use in Orienteering and Finding Your Way with Map and Compass. Find out more at How a Compass Works.
Learn Navigation. Read a book set on a sailing ship such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Use the Latitude: The Science of Sailing the World site to learn about navigating at sea.
Locate Time Zones. Use time zone maps to figure out the time differences between places in the world. Each member of the class can take on the role of a person living in a different country. What might you be doing when you get a phone call? You might be eating breakfast, lunch, supper, or a midnight snack!
Complete A Maps Activity. Follow or adapt the directions found at Mapping on the Net webQuest. You also might want to complete the map activities at The Changing View of the World and Cartography - The Art of Making Maps, the Science of Where You Are.

Websites By Kids For Kids
Maps and Navigation (A Section within the 1999 Adventures At Sea ThinkQuest Project)
If you want to be a good sailor, you will need to know about maps and navigation. You will have to be able to read maps with latitude and longitude. You will have to be precise with your navigating or you may end up hundreds of miles off course!
More Maps Websites
Equator, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Artic Circle
This online slide show provides the fundamentals of the earth's position and rotation. Click on the arrows at the bottom of the page.
Fantasy Mapmaking 101
This website will introduce you to the fine art of fantasy cartography; there are good mapmaking guides here for any type of mapmaking.
FunBrain: Where is That
This activity site shows you maps and asks you to identify the correct country (or state).
Mathematics of Cartography
This dynamite site explains exactly what are maps, gives a history of maps, investigates the math used in maps, has lesson plan ideas, map activities, and much, much more.
Map Projections
This site discusses how maps are made by representation a spherical globe on a flat piece of paper; includes information on the Mercator Projection.
Map Sources on the Web
Click-a-MAP at Atlapedia
Choose a country from the popup list, it will take you to the appropriate regional map.
Color Landform Atlas of the United States
This site has landform maps of each state in the United States. It takes a while to download. It offers instructions on how to use this site and also has external links on each state page.
Earth and Moon Viewer
Here, you can see the earth from many different directions--from the Sun, the Moon, the night side of the Earth, from a satellite orbiting the Earth, or you can look at a map of the earth showing where it is day and night at this moment. Loads slowly.
Great Globe Gallary
See the world with this collection of over 200 globes, projections, and maps.
How Far Is It?
This service uses data from the US Census and a supplementary list of cities around the world to find the latitude and longitude of two places, and then calculates the distance between them (as the crow flies). It also provides a map showing the two places, using the Xerox PARC Map Server.
MapMachine at National Geographic
This National Geographic site has country maps, facts, flags, profiles, physical and political maps, and 'views from above.'
This is your online source for maps, driving directions, local city guides, and more.
Similar Websites:
2) MapBlast
3) Maps On Us: Route Planning
Maps and References (Univ. of Iowa Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research)
This is a huge hub site about maps and geography, containing hundreds of links to map sites, map tutorials, atlases, and geographic references.
Mega Maps from Owl & Mouse Educational Software
Download Mega Maps (290k) free software to print out multipage US or world maps, up to 6 feet across.
Websites For Teachers
Compass Tag (Grades 1-3)
Children play a game using the cardinal directions to locate different objects around the classroom.
Global Grapefruit by Bonnie Murray (Grades 2-5)
This activity will help students to understand why and how mapmakers represent a 3-dimensional globe on a 2-dimensional map.
Remote Mapping Science
Here are some curriculum ideas for teaching remote mapping.
Educational Resources for Cartography, Geography, and Related Disciplines
(U.S. Geological Survey)
Here you find tons of information on maps and mapping plus links to other resources.
Lesson Plans at USGS:
2) Map Adventures (grades K-3, USGS Learning Web)
3) Working With Maps (Grade K-12, USGS Learning Web)
4) What Do Maps Show (grades 5-8, USGS Learning Web)
5) Exploring Maps (grades 7-12, USGS Learning Web)
Map Making: The Ups and Downs (Grades 6-8)
Student will learn how to read a topographical map and interpret contour lines as well as draw a topographical map.
prime meridian
world map
International Date Line
road map
historical maps
remote sensing
distribution pattern
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99,Update 1/01, Updated by Nancy Smith 11/01