Giant Map Project

Geographic education in primary and secondary schools is an important aspect of a holistic education. In a 2014 survey of 8th-grade students by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 27% of students were proficient in geography. Discrepancies are especially alarming between racial groups, with 39% of White, 7% of African American, 11% of Hispanic, and 44% of Asian/Pacific Island students scoring proficient or above. To help to alleviate some of these issues, the North Carolina Geographical Society works with local schools to provide various learning tools and strategies for improving geographic awareness. One of the most engaging projects we use is the Giant Map. We work with the Graduate Geography Student Association (GGSA) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to bring the Giant Map and all of its tools to local schools. The Giant Map Program is designed to bring the "world" to local schools across North Carolina.

Currently, we offer schools the opportunity to borrow the Giant Map of South American, various supplies, and several lesson plans. Map dimensions are 20 ft. by 26 ft. and resources are provided. If you are interested in reserving a date, please email Tyler Mitchell ( and Avery Catherwood ( for more information.

Additional Resources

Giant Map of South America, New Town Elementary

Art Teacher, Danell Kearns, shows students where she lived in South America.

In October of 2021, NCGS and the GGSA at UNCG teamed up with Renee Cunningham and to bring the Giant Map of South America to the students of New Town Elementary. Students had a great time engaging in geography-related activities. Students explored the map, learned to about scale and map directions, found country capitals, and played a scavenger hunt. During one of the activities, Art Teacher Danell Kearns shared with the students her story of living in South America. We would like to give a special thanks to Mrs. Cunningham and New Town Elementary for participating in the Giant Map Program. 


Giant Map of Africa

Students at Highlands Elementary School in Huntsville, Alabama using mapping tools to measure climate zones in Africa
Students at Highlands Elementary School in Huntsville, Alabama using mapping tools to measure climate zones in Africa

In the Fall of 2013, the University of North Alabama (UNA) participated in the Giant Map program. During this period, National Geographic rented the map for a limited time and provided a trunk full of activities. UNA arranged the logistics between schools across Alabama and provided additional instructional support when needed. Several schools opted for the instructional support and UNA sent a graduate student to work with children at these elementary schools. Several lesson plans were used, depending on the age group. Students learned about the field of geography, how to read maps, how to measure distances, how to interpret population densities, and much more. Many of these students and schools were in minority and underserved communities. This event provided a valuable service for the local community, provided an opportunity for children to discover other cultures and promoted the field of geography.