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Washington, D.C.

Posted on May 16 2021

Washington, D.C.

Dear Educators,

The #SummerofWhere is heading to Washington, D.C., this week, as we continue to highlight content available with a subscription and focus on ways to use our content to enrich student understanding. Since Washington, D.C., is the U.S. capital, many people visit its numerous sites and museums. You or your students may be planning to visit there this summer. Even without a vacation there, with Maps101, you can “visit” the capital virtually. Find out more about Washington, D.C., below. Meanwhile, explore #SummerofWhere to help students stay on track this summer.

Geography News Network

To get started, this GNN article provides insight into many of the must-sees in Washington. From the Holocaust Museum to the Lincoln Memorial and much, much more, read to learn more about what makes Washington, D.C., unique. The accompanying map helps students connect the sites with their geographic location. Students may be surprised to see that there are so many sites in a relatively small area.

Interactive Map

After reading about some of Washington’s sites, this interactive map will show students images of places in Washington, with additional information about each place. Students will again be supported by viewing relative location through the points of interest placed on the map. They will also benefit from being able to make visual connections with what they read in the GNN article.


Washington, D.C.—Downtown

This map shows Washington, D.C.’s downtown. Notice that most of the streets are laid out in a grid pattern. The map includes many of the sites for which the capital is famous. Try to find at least five different sites you would like to visit, or maybe you already have visited, to practice identifying places on a map.

National Geographic Video

To further illustrate what Washington, D.C., offers visitors, view this short (2:40) National Geographic Video on Rock Creek Park. The land for the park was set aside by Congress in 1890. Seen from a car, drivers can only get a glimpse of the park. Few would guess that a woodland, with deer, sits amid the urban landscape. Thousands go there daily. Take a look for yourself!



In partnership with Esri, the leader in geographic information systems (GIS), Maps101 provides teachers with GeoQuests—cross-curricular activities connected to an interactive map. Each GeoQuest includes multiple activities connected to a map. These activities follow the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework that has students ask questions before activities that ask students to acquire knowledge, explore, analyze, and finally, act on what they have learned by writing an argument. You do not need to use UbD or understand its principles for your class to benefit from these interactive, investigatory activities.

Earth Science:

Washington D.C.'s Geography, Climate, Land Use, and Resources


Human Geography:

Population Patterns and Economics in Washington D.C.


Help students practice learning throughout their lives (and avoid the summer education slide). Use our weekly GNN articles, so that students can continue to expand their world and their understanding, even during the summer. Maps101 posts articles throughout the year. We don’t stop just because summer is in the air and the heat takes over!

Understanding Relative Location Use the Map of the Week of Washington, D.C., to help students understand relative location by identifying sites on the map in relation to other sites using directions such as north of, southwest of, east of, etc. Have students pair up and have one pick a site while the other student picks a different site. The first person must name the direction to the second site, relative to the first. Then they can swap turns.

Creating a Tour Pamphlet Using what students have learned in this week’s newsletter and what they have researched online, have them create a pamphlet that highlights what visitors can see and do in Washington, D.C. Have students then explain why, as a citizen of the United States, it is important to visit the capital.

Expanding Mapping Skills Refer to the Map of the Week of downtown Washington, D.C. Have students look carefully at the layout of the streets. What do they notice? (The city is laid out in a grid pattern.) Have students research the development of the capital and its design. Then, have them write a short report, with images, that explains the design of the capital. Ensure they include how the map illustrates the intentional design of the city. Advanced students may be interested in further exploring the topic of urban development and what needs to be considered when designing cities, such as green space, adjusting for rivers and other water features, public services, terrain, etc. 

High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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