1. Draw a map of your school or community.
Draw a simple map of your school or community on the board. Include suggestions from students about what should be included and where things should be placed. Make sure the items on the map are places students are familiar with, such as the gymnasium, cafeteria, and playground for a school or the park, mall, school, and grocery store for a community. Have students copy the map on their own paper.

2. Have students create pasta population maps for the school or community.
Give students pieces of pasta and glue. Ask them to decide which parts of the school or places in the community have the most people or are the most crowded. Then, have them glue multiple pieces of pasta on the part of the map that represents the most crowded parts of the school or community. Have them glue just a few pieces of pasta onto places where there are only a few people, and no pasta on places where no people tend to go. You can demonstrate where they should glue their pasta by drawing pieces of pasta on the map on the board.

3. Have students reflect.

Tell students that they have just created a population map of their school or community, showing the places that have the largest and smallest numbers of people. Review the maps as a class and ask: Which parts of the school are the most crowded? Which are the least crowded? Why?


Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • create a population map

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning

National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

Theme 3
People, Places, and Environments

National Geography Standards

Standard 3
How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface
Standard 9
The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface


What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Pasta in assorted shapes
  • Pencils

Background & Vocabulary

Background Information

Population is the whole number of people living in an area, such as a town or city. Mapping a population helps you to see where the area is most and least crowded.

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

Encyclopedic Entry: map



total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

For Further Exploration



Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.


Nancee Hunter


Christina Riska, National Geographic Society

Expert Reviewer

Elizabeth Chacko, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Geography, The George Washington University


adapted from National Geographic Xpeditions Lesson “How do you Like a Crowd?” and Xpeditions Activity “Population Pasta”

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