The Democracy Project

for Parents & Teachers

Resources and information about "The Democracy Project"...

Tasty Mapping

Subjects: Social Studies/Math

Estimated Time of Completion: five to six fifty minute class periods

  1. I. Summary
  2. II. Objectives
  3. III. Materials Needed
  4. IV. Procedure
  5. V. Classroom Assessment
  6. VI. Extensions and Adaptations
  7. VII. Relevant Standards

I. Summary

Students will become familiar with the location of their local government buildings and city landmarks following class discussions, research of the local city, and a visit to the online game, "How Does Government Affect Me?" The lesson will culminate with an activity that produces an edible map of the student's city. (Note: this lesson functions well as a follow-up to "Why Vote? A Public Awareness Campaign.")

II. Objectives

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of their city or town by locating their home, school and other familiar landmarks and placing them on an edible map of their city.
  • Students will practice and improve their map-reading and map-making skills.
  • Students will use the Internet to research officials, buildings and services.

III. Materials Needed

  • For edible maps: peanut butter, milk, powdered sugar, white corn syrup, icing, chocolate chips, nuts, M&M's and any other edible material that you want to include on the map. You may want to assign each student a specific edible ingredient to bring on the day that you are making the edible maps.
  • Computers with Internet access for research.

IV. Procedure

  1. Introduce the lesson by bringing a teacher-created edible map (using the recipe below) of the students' school. Have the students guess what it is. Discuss the different people within the school that help to make the school run efficiently (e.g., nurse, principal, teacher, bus driver, custodian).
  2. You may want to explore equivalents of the school principal, nurse, custodian, etc. within the city. Encourage students to name jobs and volunteer work positions that affect the entire community. The discussion will lead students to explain how each person would be affected without certain people, positions or services. (If this lesson follows the lesson "Why Vote?," students can use the classroom bulletin board to review similarities and differences between the school and the town.)
  3. Allow students to take turns eating from the map until everyone has had a piece.
  4. Tell students that they are going to create a community map?a much bigger project than the teacher-made school map. Tell students that in order to do a good job, they will need to do some research and become familiar with the people in the community that are vital to its success.
  5. Direct students to the online game "How Does Government Affect Me?" Tell students that they are going to learn more about how government helps the town run.
  6. Students will then do research using local newspapers, pamphlets, Web sites and local city maps to locate familiar landmarks, schools, government buildings, parks and other unique features of their city. (Maps and/or postcards of local areas of interest can sometimes be obtained from the Chamber of Commerce.)
  7. Assign each student an edible ingredient to bring to class in order to complete this project.
  8. Divide the class into teams of three to four students. These teams will be responsible for working together and following directions to create their edible map.
  9. Students will create a map of their city. Students should attempt to keep this map to scale, and use their math skills to convert units of measurement and plot a grid. Students will place landmarks, schools, government buildings, parks and other unique features of their city. Students and teachers can brainstorm to come up with a minimum list to be included.
  10. Recipe:
    • 2 cups of smooth peanut butter
    • 2 1/2 cups of powdered milk
    • 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
    • 2 cups of white corn syrup
    • Optional: use blue icing for water; chocolate icing for mountains; Tootsie Rolls to mark roads or boundaries; M&M's, chocolate chips and nuts to mark schools, homes and government buildings, etc.
  11. Give each group a copy of the recipe. They will combine the first four ingredients to use as a base (this can be built over a sheet cake, tray of brownies, sheets of graham crackers, etc.). Students will then decorate their map with physical areas, local landmarks and buildings, using the optional ingredients. Students should also prepare brief cards/captions explaining how government is involved in each item on their maps.
  12. Students will then share, eat and enjoy the maps to celebrate and reinforce their new knowledge of the city.

IV. Classroom Assessment

  • Students should have completed all activities and participated in discussions.
  • Students should have worked cooperatively within a group, followed directions and produced a correctly finished "edible map" of their town, created more or less to appropriate scale.
  • Students should be able to recognize landmarks, physical features, and unique sites of their town as evidenced by their "edible map" and explain government involvement/influence on each one.

V. Extensions and Adaptations

  • Invite guest speakers to the classroom, and invite them to hear student presentations and help eat the maps. (Maps might also be shared at a PTA meeting or school assembly.)
  • After a study of Washington D.C., make an edible map of the nation's capital.

VII. Relevant National Standards

These are established by McREL:

Language Arts

  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
  • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
  • Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions


  • Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs, including the Internet


  • Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of measurement
  • Understands how scale in maps and drawings shows relative size and distance

Social Studies

  • Understands ideas about civic life, politics and government
  • Understands the sources, purposes and functions of law, and the importance of the rule of law for the protection of individual rights and the common good
  • Knows the major things government does in one's school, community, state, and nation (e.g., make, carry out, and enforce laws; manage conflicts; provide national security)
  • Knows how to distinguish between national, state, and local governments
  • Knows major services provided by national, state, and local governments (e.g., state services such as education and health services and local services such as transportation, education, recreation, public safety, public utilities), and knows how these services are paid for(e.g., taxes, fees, licenses)