Explain that local governments in Virginia consist of counties and independent cities. Some cities and all towns are part of counties and do not have independent governments.
Distribute a map of Virginia showing its counties and independent cities. Explain that Virginia is unique in having independent cities. In most other states, cities (even very large cities) are part of a county.
Ask students to locate their own city or county and that of neighboring locales to enhance geographic literacy.
Explain to students that you want them to be familiar with their community, so they are going to identify important places (historical, economic, and personal) in their county or city. Tell them they must identify five historical or governmental sites (e.g., George Washington’s home, the site of the first coal mine in Virginia, a Civil War battle site); five economic sites (e.g., site of the major employer in town); and five locations that are important to the student (e.g., their elementary school, park, their favorite shopping mall). These locations will be denoted by symbols.
Explain that you are going to model what you want students to create by showing a map of Virginia that you have illustrated in the same way. Trace a map of Virginia from a highway map. Draw symbols on the map to represent important places. For example, use a cannon to show a battle site (historical), draw a crab in the Chesapeake Bay (economic), and draw the mascot of your favorite college in Virginia (personal). Draw as many symbols to represent the three categories of information as you can.
For homework, ask students to compile a list of fifteen county or city places.
On the second day, distribute outline maps of the city or county. Ask students to take out their markers and list of locations and draw symbols to represent the spots. Leave enough time at the end of class for students to share their work.
Ask each student to select his or her two favorite symbols and explain what the symbol is and why it is important to the community.
Create a collage on the bulletin board, using the students’ maps.