World map project
From Peace Corps Wiki
Map Painting: a Peace Corps Tradition
Maps of the world, painted on school walls, in places where people have little access to maps. If you’ve served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the last 18 years, you’ve probably heard about and maybe even carried out this project.
Not only is it an elegant, low tech way to teach geography and a host of other concrete skills, but on a more profound level, it can help people create a mental framework for thinking about the wider world and their place in it.
Who “Invented” the Map Project?
The first World Map Project Manual was published by the NPCA (then the National Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) in 1990 and was written by Barbara Jo White (RPCV/Dominican Republic 87-89). According to that manual, she conceived of the project and did the first map in September 1988 in Hondo Valle, DR.
One Volunteer’s Story
Joy Campbell is a veteran map painter. From 1998 to 2000 she served as an Education Volunteer in Morocco, assigned to work in a Dar Chebab (Community Youth Center) in the southeastern town of Rich. She did world maps in Imilchil (a Berber village up in the High Atlas mountains), a cafe in Rich, and a Dar Chebab in Tahannaoute (another village, south of Marrakech). She also did a map in the capital city of Rabat while serving as trainer for incoming Peace Corps education volunteers.
“I wanted to do it as a hands-on training experience so they could go out and do it at their sites with confidence,” explains Joy. “I also did a map of Morocco's provinces based on the grid system I learned doing the world maps. It's such an awesome project!”
More recently, Joy and her husband Kyle Enger (Morocco 97-00) traveled to Tanzania as part of a program called Global Volunteers, a service program organization based out of Minnesota. The couple spent several weeks in the village of Pommern and one of the things they wanted to do was paint a map at the local school. It was Kyle’s first map project—in Morocco he had been a Health/Sanitation volunteer.
As the picture shows, the map was a success! (From left to right: Gwakisa, Lewis, Vincent (behind), Justin ("69"), Benson, Meshack, Ruben, and Emmanuel and Julius in front.)
Bringing the World (Map) Home
Maps don’t just happen overseas. Many volunteers have come back the U.S. and carried out map projects here. One example is Greater Birmingham Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, an NPCA affiliate group, which has successfully partnered with selected Birmingham (AL) public schools on a World Map Painting Project. By bringing the large, colorful maps into the local schools, they hope to spark interest in learning about the wider world.
To find out more about their project—including complete instructions on map painting and how this project can be replicated—visit the GBRPCV Web site and click on “Instructions on How to Do a Map Painting Project.”
-The National Peace Corps Association. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
White, Barbara Jo, and E. S. Sheffield. (1995). The World Map Project Handbook. Peace Corps. District of Columbia. (ED 391747). This handbook can be used by anyone with an interest in mapmaking. The step-by-step guide shows how to draw, plan, and color a one-of-a-kind world map. The guide also provides a variety of enrichment activities to promote continued involvement with the world map. The activities stress cooperative problem solving for participants of all ages.
Part I: How to make your world map
Make Four Decisions:
1. Which mapmaking method will you use--grid or projection?
2. Approximately what size will your map be? Any border?
3. What background surface will you use?
4. How will you color your map?
Prepare Your Materials
Prepare Your Map Section Sheets.
Each gridded sheet represents a section of the world map. If you make your world map using the Grid Method, you'll need these sheets when drawing, coloring, and labeling. In preparation:
• Photocopy each section sheet to make single-sided copies.
• Color the countries on your photocopied section sheets according to your color scheme. It's usually easier to draw from colored map sections. Colored sheets also eliminate endless "What-color-do-l-paint-this-country?" questions later on. Remind your mapmakers to color lightly over written information. Double-check the results.
• Protect the section sheets. Plastic-covered pages will last through many mapmakings and paint spills. Laminate them or slip them into plastic folders and tape shut.
Prepare Your Background Surface
You'll want a background surface that is as clean, smooth, and as light-colored as possible. If you'll be painting your map, make sure your surface is nonporous. Prime it, if necessary, and let it dry. Paint the entire map area ocean blue, two coats if needed. With a blue background, you won't have to carefully paint the ocean around the continents and islands later on. Save some ocean blue paint for touch-ups. (General recipe: ocean blue = 1/2 quart of white + 3-5 teaspoonfuls of blue.)
Use pre-coated artist-type canvas if possible. If your canvas is not pre-coated, you'll need to prime it with whatever product an art supply store recommends. Primer may seep through your canvas, so protect your floor. Also, keep in mind that linen canvas may shrink after getting wet.
Think about how you'll display your canvas once it's painted. Though not necessary, you may want to consider stretching your canvas on a frame before priming and/or painting. Doing so will smooth and "square" the surface as well as provide an attractive way to display the completed map. After constructing your grid, take the canvas from the frame if you will be working on the floor. Re-attach at the end of the project.
Another option is to lash the canvas to PVC plastic tubing, or sew a "pocket" the length of the canvas through which you can later insert a strong rod.
Paper and Cardboard
You can prime paper for an improved painting surface (see Canvas, above).
Floors and Playgrounds
Sweep and hose down your surface so that it is clean. Depending on the size of your map, you may not want to paint the entire area ocean blue.
The grid method
The goal is to create an accurate hand-drawn map of the world. To do so, you first draw a big grid on your background surface. Then you transfer information block-by-block from map section sheets onto this proportionately larger grid. Although it involves a number of steps, actually making and using the grid is quite simple. Schoolchildren all over the world have succeeded and you can too.
map section sheets,
measuring tape (optional)
long straightedge (optional)
carpenter's square, protractor, or even a sheet of (squared) paper from this guide
Figure 1: The World Map and Grid
Setting up your grid
A grid of 1,568 blocks (28 rows x 56 rows) already overlays your map section sheets. Your job is to make a similar (though larger) grid on your background surface. The following steps tell you how to size, center, and square your grid box; they also tell you how to draw all the grid lines. Many mapmakers find constructing the grid the most time-consuming aspect of the whole project; after making all those straight lines, actually drawing the map goes quickly.
Determine the Exact Size of Your Grid Box
Your map will be the same size as your grid box. The exact size of your grid box depends upon how large you want to make each of its 1,568 grid blocks: the larger the blocks, the larger your grid.
To figure out the dimensions of your grid box:
1. Decide how big you want each grid block to be.
|block size||= proposed length (in/cm) of your map divided by 56|
|= proposed height (in/cm) of your map divided by 28|
Note: Blocks are square, so their length should equal height. Any block size is fine, but blocks at least 2 inches (5 cm) square are best.
2. Round your block size to the nearest half-inch (or cm). This will make setting up the grid much easier.
3. Re-calculate your map's final height by multiplying the rounded block size by 28. Recalculate its final length by multiplying block size by 56.
4. Make sure your map's grid box will still fit within your background area.
Example: Proposed Map Size = 4 meters by 8 meters (400 cm x 800 cm)
|Height of Block||= 400 cm divided by 28|
|= 14.2 cm (round to 14 cm)|
|Length of Block||= 800 cm divided by 56|
|= 14.2 cm (round to 14 cm)|
|Block size||= 14 cm x 14 cm (blocks are square: height = length)|
|Final Map Height||= 14 cm x 28|
|= 392 cm (3.92 m)|
|Final Map Length||= 14 cm x 56|
|= 784 cm (7.84 m)|
For maps painted on floors or playgrounds:
Before finding your grid box size, why not first orient your world map to true north? Use a magnetic compass to find out how your map should sit on its background surface. Most outdoor slabs will be oriented on a north/south or east/west axis. Some maps may rest at an odd angle to their background surface, but at least they'll be oriented correctly.
Draw Your Grid Box
The four sides of your grid box make a rectangle whose corners form right angles (90 degrees).
Without squared corners, your whole grid system will be skewed, causing distortions when you draw the map. So it's important to construct the four sides of your grid box with care.
It's easy to square and center your grid box if your background surface is itself already squared. If you're working with an unsquared background (as most mapmakers have), you'll need to go through a few extra steps:
• For an unsquared area of wall or an irregular piece of hung canvas/paper.
• For an unsquared area of floor, playground, or an irregular piece of flat canvas/paper.
For all pre-squared surfaces (pre-cut plywood or canvas, some walls):
1. Check to make sure the corners of your surface are indeed squared. See guidelines below.
2. Center your grid box on the surface: measure in from the outside edges of your background area. After you draw your box, double-check its dimensions to make sure they are still the same as your map.
Make Sure Your Grid Box is Squared
Recall that each of the four corners should be right angles (90 degrees). An L-shaped carpenter's square (or even a plain piece of paper) can be a useful tool here. Another test: Are your corner-to-corner diagonals of equal length? If they are, you have a squared rectangle. Congratulations!
Draw Your Grid Lines
1. Mark the horizontal grid lines:
a. Place a yardstick/meter stick along the left edge of your grid box. The stick's base should abut the grid's bottom line.
b. Let n = the height of your grid's blocks. Mark points along the left edge every n inches/centimeters.
c. Follow similar steps for marking points up along the right edge of your grid box.
d. Draw parallel lines connecting the opposite points. Use a pencil and a very long straightedge, such as a thin plank or taut wire/string. (You may need to draw segment-by-segment or devise another strategy if you don't have access to a long straightedge. In any case, do not use chalk lines since they don't work well for walls and they smudge easily.)
Snap a chalk line through each pair of opposite points. Repeat the process until all horizontal grid lines are in place. Immediately paint these chalked grid lines with white paint, as you could quickly lose them within a day to weather or foot traffic. To speed the process, paint a dotted line using the side of a sponge. [This idea came from: David W. David, "Big Maps--Little People," The Journal of Geography, (March/April 1990)]
2. Mark vertical grid lines: measure and mark points along the top and bottom edges of your grid box as in Step 1 (a - d).
Number Your Grid
Numbering the grid helps mapmakers stay on target as they transfer blocks of information onto it from the map section sheets.
1. Number Down
Number the 28 grid blocks vertically from top to bottom (1-28) in three places:
• down the grid's left edge (sections #1,13,17)
• down the grid's right edge (sections #6,12,18)
• down the center of the grid box (which is also the map's prime meridian)
2. Number Across
Number the 56 grid blocks horizontally from left to right (1-56) in three places:
• across the grid's top row (sections #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
• across the grid's bottom row (sections #13,14, 15,16,17,18, 19)
• across the center of the grid (which is also the map's equator)
3. Number Each Section
Darken the grid lines that separate the map into 18 sections. Number the section #1-18 as marked on the sheets themselves.
Drawing your map on the grid
Now you are ready to draw the whole wide world! Although it sounds like a big undertaking, transferring information from the section sheets onto your grid is relatively straightforward-almost anyone can do it.
copies of Practice Exercise #1: Enlarging Drawings By Grid,
copies of Practice Exercise #2: Drawing Maps by Grid,
copies of map section sheets,
pencils and erasers (most surfaces)
chalk and wet rags (playgrounds)
Practice How to Draw by Grid
1. Hand out Practice Exercise #1. This worksheet gives your mapmakers a chance to hone their skills. It also lets you know who among your group may need more assistance. Some people, especially young children, will have a harder time than others enlarging drawings. Those who aren't particularly adept at map drawing, however, make wonderful map painters.
2. Hand out Practice Exercise #2.
a. Remind mapmakers that the key to success is making sure country borders or coast lines cross the large grid block in proportionately the same place as on the corresponding small grid block.
b. Discuss strategies for drawing difficult map areas:
• For complex borders, subdivide an especially challenging block into four smaller blocks. Be sure to subdivide the same block on the large map grid as well.
• For numerous small islands, draw in a few of the larger South Pacific islands in each island group (Tuvalu, Vanuatu, etc.). Using these islands as reference points, paint the smaller islands directly on your surface.
Devise a strategy for working on the world map itself:
1. How many mapmakers can work on each section?
2. How many sections can they work on at one time?
3. In what order will they draw these sections?
4. Who will check the accuracy of each transferred section? How will it be done?
Drawing the Map
Transfer information from the small map sections onto the corresponding sections of the large grid. Copy block-by-block until you have completely drawn the entire map.
Very Important: When starting to draw in a new area, always check, double-check, and triple-check the coordinates on the section sheets with those on the large grid. Be sure that you begin drawing your country in the correct block. You may want to use paired teams to minimize confusion: one partner "navigates" (points to the correct block and checks the work) while the other draws. Encourage partners to switch tasks.
The projection method
This is an alternate way of drawing your map on a wall (or other vertical surface) using an overhead projector. The Projection Method does not involve drawing a grid.
transparency of world map,
copies of map section sheets,
electrical outlet and extension cord
1. Make a transparency of p. 41.
2. Project the transparency onto your wall. Adjust the distance of the projector from the wall until your map is the size you want. To prevent mishap, mark your chosen spot on the floor with a piece of tape.
3. Tape the transparency to the projector to prevent accidental movement. Also secure the projector.
4. Devise a work strategy with your mapmakers:
a. How many mapmakers can work at one time?
b. Who will check the accuracy of the tracing? Are all countries accounted for?
5. Trace the projected map information onto the wall. Use pencils.
a. First trace the large rectangle that frames the map, then the oval map itself.
b. Now trace the interior lines separating the map into 18 sections. Numbering sections 1-18 will be helpful when you refer to the section sheets for coloring and labeling your map.
c. Trace the continents before drawing individual countries.
6. Once you have completely traced the map, color and label it.
Coloring the map
your colored copies of the map section sheets
latex or acrylic paint
containers for paint (screw-on lids sometimes stick)
plastic spoons/cups (for mixing/stirring paint)
brushes of a variety of sizes (small-tipped brushes will keep many painters busy)
rollers and pans (for really big jobs)
rinse water cans
soap and water (for washing brushes)
newspapers (for catching drips)
large erasers for removing the ocean grid lines
If you can't get ready-mixed colors, here are some recipes you may want to try. Except for ocean blue, which calls for a half quart of white, the others are measured in teaspoonfuls, as you need only a small amount of each (depending on the size of your map, of course):
Ocean blue = 1/2 quart of white + 3-5 teaspoonfuls of blue
Green = 4 yellow + 2 blue
Light Green = 7 yellow + 1 blue
Purple = 4 red + 2 blue
Lavender = 5 white + 2 purple
Pink = 5 white + 3 red Orange = 5 yellow + 3 red
Colors need to be light so that map labels will show up. To prevent a color from becoming too dark, always put the light color in your cup first and add the darker color bit by bit. Always shake your paint before and after mixing for best consistency.
wide-tipped colored markers (waterproof)
colored pencils and sharpeners
white cover-up for errors
colored tissue paper
1. Test your colors to make sure they cover your grid lines. If not, erase the affected grid lines. Light colors like yellow may not cover grid lines, even with 2 or 3 coats; mixing a little white with the color may help.
2. Pre-code country colors on the large map. Although mapmakers can consult the colored section sheets, facilitate the process further by putting an appropriate dot of color in each country. This will eliminate questions and confusion while your group is coloring.
3. Decide how you'll color the background area surrounding your oval map, the corner emblems (optional), and a rectangular border (optional).
4. Alert mapmakers to any special care of materials, e.g. how to wash brushes.
5. Devise a work strategy similar to the one you developed for drawing the map. Alternately, develop a job chart. Go over tasks and roles with your mapmakers. In addition to painters, you'll also need map checkers and cleaner-uppers.
6. Paint your map:
• For best consistency, always shake your paint before using it.
• Alert painters to the "danger" of painting adjacent to a still-wet country. Colors could mix at the border.
• If grid lines cross your oceans, erase the lines or touch up with paint.
Labeling the map
copies of map section sheets,
extra paint for touch-ups and corrections
permanent black markers (or brushes and paint for really big jobs):
• wide-tipped for oceans, equator, large countries
• medium tipped for medium-sized countries
• thin-tipped for small-sized countries
clear water-based finish (makes the painted surface smoother and easier to write on)
1. Prepare your map's surface for labeling, if desired. First brush or spray a thin coat of finish on your map. When you've completed your labeling, add a second coat of finish. First test a small area to make sure that the product is compatible with the marker you used.
2. Decide what you want to label. Some possibilities:
• countries and territories
• location of capitals
• bodies of water (oceans, seas, gulfs, bays, lakes)
• details on your emblems and on the compass
• names of mapmakers
• date of completion
3. Devise a work strategy:
• Who will do the labeling?
• What size(s) will the labels be?
• Where, exactly, will the labels go?
• Who will check the accuracy of the labeling (spelling, position)? How will it be done? How will errors be corrected?
4. Label: To minimize errors, labeler(s) may want to first write in pencil and then copy in ink.
Celebrating the map's completion
Congratulations! You've finished! Why not hold a celebration to honor all those who helped with the map and to behold the beautiful result of all that collaboration?
Take a group photo in front of the map (and send World Wise Schools a copy) and call in the local TV crews or print media too.
Coincide your "world premiere" with an event like Earth Day or Geography Awareness Week. Invite people from other countries to share song, dance, food with you, or call in some Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. They are happy to speak about personal experiences living and working in countries around the world.
Other ideas: Try out some of the activities detailed in Part II; share slides or photos of the work in progress. Invite parents, classmates, community members, and others to write comments in a guest book. Have fun!
Keeping the map current
The world keeps changing. Your map can either be a "snapshot in time" or a periodically updated document. If you opt for "snapshot," do record the date of completion on your map. If you want to keep the map current, keep abreast of political changes in our world. Create a file or compare your map with an updated one. Schedule an annual "catch-up" day to make changes; hang on to your supplies.