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Micro Ventures: Map Making + Trail Hunts

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

As part of the Micro Venture series, we’re here to make navigation and map basics entertaining and fun for everyone in your household or neighborhood. What better way to learn than creating a map yourself!

Maps are complicated and contain a ton of information. Before we jump into topographic maps, we want to introduce ways to understand what goes into map making. We’ll provide simple instructions on how to make a map as a fun activity to understand map basics.

It’s ok if you don’t have a yard, you can build a map of anything from your living room, house, yard, or neighborhood. How would you help a new friend visual the space you're mapping out? What are the points of interest or things you’d tell them if you were standing next to them?

Let’s get started!

Map making gear list

  • Pencil

  • Markers/crayons

  • Paper

  • Straight edge

  • Access to Google Maps (optional)

Map basics

Make sure you’re covering all the map basics while creating this masterpiece. All maps should cover a specific location, have a legend, and compass rose for directional orientation.


Decide what area (or a map boundary) you are going to make a map of. Gain perspective by imagining what it looks like from above and sketch the outline.


Draw the key elements of the map, including the legend and identifying features. The legend summarizes and defines symbols you'll find on the map.

Compass rose

Every map needs to be oriented and the user needs to know which way is north, south, east, and west. Use your compass from the last Micro Ventures to help.

Make a map

Create a trail by walking your map area and recording it on your map. Draw in points of interest icons and add them to your legend. Extra credit for pacing out a scale and adding it to your map with grid lines.

After you have your location in mind, it’s time to add perspective. Imagine what it looks like from above and sketch the outline. Or in other words, try to get a bird’s-eye view, or an elevated view of an object from above with a perspective as though the observer is a bird.

When creating a backyard or neighborhood map, find the area you are creating on Google Earth (or Google Maps using the satellite layer) to dial in the correct dimensions. Here are a few steps to follow: 1. Search by the address, 2. Zoom in to your area, 3. Select satellite view, and 4. Sketch from the image.

Draw the key elements of the map including legend and identifying features, like boundaries, trails, and points of interest. Create a trail by walking your map area and recording it on your map.

SheJumps Map Making PDF

Share your projects on social media by tagging @SheJumps and #SJMicroVentures.

How to read a map

Learn how to read a map with Stephanie Durbin, Wild Skills Program Manager.

Maps tell us where we are and show basic terrain, boundary lines, and ways to explore areas on the map, including trails, ski runs, and lifts.

Hint: Jump to minute 4 of the video to see how your backyard map can come to life.

Trail hunt

Now, it’s time to make it a treasure hunt, think of a creative way geocaching. Hide treasures anywhere along your trail and task a friend or family member with finding them. Add them as points of interest in the legend or provide a list of the objects with the coordinates or what grid they’re located.

What's next?

Share your map activity with friends and family and plan, create, or start your next Micro Venture.

SheJumps values providing low-to-no cost opportunities for our members. In the current state of the world, our ability to continue providing these programs relies on the availability of limited resources. If you find this education valuable, please consider a donation to support the future of our programs. Contribute to SheJumps ⟶

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