What are maps?

Maps are drawings and they can help you find where you are and where you are going.

They show symbols (pictures) for places such as car parks or places of worship like churches and a key, which tells you what the symbols mean.

Maps can help you find your way using directions – north, south, east and west.

Play the video to watch Granny teach Ben and Amber how to follow a map.

Complete the symbols activity below:

Maps help you find your way around places. They can be drawn on paper or you can look at digital maps on computers, like tablets and mobile phones.

It’s important to hold maps the right way so that you know which way, or direction to go. Looking at what is around you can help you do this.


  • You can work out where you are on a map by looking at things around you and finding where they are on the map.
  • Remember to look at the key if you don’t know what a symbol means.
  • Here are two ways to memorise the compass points for north (N), east (E), south (S) and west (W):
  1. Naughty Elephants Squirt Water
  2. Never Eat Sugar Worms

Have a look through useful images related to maps:

Close-up of a compass with 4 cardinal points: N (north), E (east) , S (south) and W (west)

A compass

A compass helps you find directions – N (north), E (east) , S (south) and W (west).

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Did you know?

The oldest map ever found is of the stars – drawn as dots.

It was discovered next to paintings of bulls and horses, in caves at Lascaux in France.

The map is thought to be over 16,000 years old!

What about you?

Why don’t you have a go at drawing your own maps?

Try to think of a special place or a place you know well to show on a map, or you could use your imagination to draw a map of a place from a story you may have read or heard.