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Mapping Crooked Creek (FBCEC)

TopicAGFC - Centers
Laboratory and Hands-on Activities - Physical Activity
Outdoor Skills - Boating
Outdoor Skills - Nature Mapping
This is an intensive nature mapping activity for older participants involving a canoe/kayak trip down Crooked Creek. Participants will learn mapping techniques as they travel downstream, mapping their assigned section of the creek.
Grade Level9 - 12
Recommended SettingFred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR
LocationFred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR
Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484
Duration3.5 - 4.5 hours
Suggested Number of ParticipantsUp to 12
Special Conditions
Water conditions and weather permitting.  Paddling experience is prerequisite.
  • Increase awareness of sense of place and geographical relationships.
  • Learn mapmaking skills such as scale, direction and perspective.
  • Create a map of observations made while exploring a section of Crooked Creek
Key Terms*





Canoes/kayaks with paddles


Large aerial Crooked Creek maps

Life jackets


Smaller maps with sections of the creek

Ziploc bags for carrying maps

GPS units and dry bags (optional)


Explorers for eons have mapped new locations to record not just routes taken but also features and events along those routes. Mapmaking can help explore and define the environment whether it is a schoolyard, the world or even the galaxy.



  1. Discuss mapping, various types of maps and uses, and display the aerial Crooked Creek maps. These map the entire creek in five 8-foot sections. Challenge participants to find features they recognize.
  2. Explain basic mapping terminology such as perspective, scale, direction and legend.
  3. Divide the class into pairs or small groups and distribute smaller maps that show the section of Crooked Creek they will travel. Give each group a compass and a large Ziploc bag to keep their materials dry.
  4. Show examples of features to include on their maps such as prominent trees, man-made structures, landforms, etc.
  5. Discuss basic canoeing/kayaking skills, safety and rules. (Refer to the canoeing /kayaking lesson in the outdoor skills track.)
  6. Tell them to estimate distances, check directions, etc. (If participants are mature enough to care for the equipment, GPS units may be used.)
  7. Float and map the creek.

Journaling can be incorporated into this lesson. Give participants journaling tasks to be completed along the way or provide each team with several locations (use landmarks or GPS coordinates) to stop for journal entries. Or, instruct participants to choose at least two locations along the way for journaling.

  • Explain the significance of each of the following in mapping:
    • perspective
    • distance
    • scale
  • Describe four features that were useful as landmarks or references on your Crooked Creek map.
  • What was most challenging about making the map?
  • How might the map be useful to others?
  • Garrett, Mary E. (2004). Orienteering and Map Games for Teachers. United States Orienteering Federation, Forest Park, GA.
  • Sobel, David (1998). Mapmaking With Children – Sense of Place Education for the Elementary Teacher. Heinemann; Portsmouth, NH.



Legend – an explanatory list of the symbols on a map or chart


Perspective – the appearance of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions


Scale (mapping) – a ratio which compares a measurement on a map to the actual distance between locations identified on the map