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Geography
Parts of a Map



Parts of a Map
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grade 3
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.33

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cartographers, listed, index, perfectly, compass, fold, important, hometown, life-size, simple, direction, lines, measure, surface, certain, straight
     content words:    New York City, York City


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Parts of a Map
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     Maps are one of the most important tools on Earth. They help us find places. They show us Earth's mountains and oceans. To read a map, you need to understand its different parts.
 
2     Maps are paper diagrams of the Earth's surface. The first part of a map you need to know is its title. The title tells you what the map is showing. A map of the streets in your town would have your town's name as its title. A compass rose helps you to find direction. Although it is not a flower, it is still important. A simple compass rose may look like a plus sign with arrows. At the ends of the arrows the four cardinal directions would be listed. They are north, south, east, and west. The top arrow would point to the top of the map, which is north. The bottom arrow points south to the bottom of the map.
 
3     The next important part of the map is the symbols. Maps show a smaller picture of the Earth's surface. You can't draw a life-size mountain on a small piece of paper. That is why cartographers use small pictures. Symbols are the points, lines, and patterns that are listed in the map key. The key is a box located in one of the bottom corners of the map. Symbols have different colors depending on the physical feature the drawing represents. For example, water features like rivers, lakes, and oceans are colored blue. Trees, woods, orchards, and shrubs are usually colored green. Red is used for important roads. What about buildings and mountains? Well, buildings are colored black, and mountains and hills are colored brown.

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