Autobiography Maps: Our Life as an Island - Eva Varga

July 21, 20207

I originally discovered this creative autobiography project activity years ago. When I shared it with my kids, they were excited to give it a try. I am now looking forward to using it in my ELL classroom this fall.

I started with a short questionnaire that got the kids thinking about important things that have happened during their lives, items or activities that represent them currently, and goals that they have for the future.

We spent a few minutes talking about our interests and revisited the essays they had written previously.

Gautobiomap   Jautobiomap
We then discussed elements of actual maps:

  • Scale:   Scale is used to show that a certain distance on the map represents the actual distance on the earths surface.  On a map, scale is represented using words (for example, one inch = 400 miles) or using a graphic (a line graph).
  • Title:   What the map is about. The title is generally the biggest, darkest, most noticeable text on your map.
  • Legend or Key:   Used for defining and understanding the symbols found on the map. It is usually in one of the corners of the map and is often enclosed by a box. It explains the meaning of the different sizes, shapes, and colors used in the map.
  • Symbols:   The things on the map which stand for or represent real things on the earth’s surface. Symbols vary according to 2 categories: color and shape.  For example: a star ê is often used to represent the capital city or yellow to represent a desert.
  • Compass:   The compass shows which way is up on the map. Nearly all maps are printed so that north is towards the top of the page.  This is shown by a compass rose using N, S, E, and W.
  • Location:   Where the place or places shown on the map are exactly location the earth.  Lines of latitude and longitude are used on the map to show the location.  You should have at least one line of latitude and one line of longitude.
  • Border:   The outside edge of the map. This is a thick, 1 inch straight line around the outside of the map. The border can be left blank if the entire ocean is colored. It helps direct people’s attention to the map.

Lastly, I set out the art materials and they got to work. They opted not to include all the map elements but using a rubric, each included enough detail to achieve a desirable score.

I did not use letter grades in our homeschool but did occasionally incorporate rubrics to keep them accountable as well as to prepare them for more formal courses. In my ELL classroom, I will use a simplified version of the rubric. I’ll share that soon.

Autobiography Maps is an activity I discovered on Ms. López in the Art Room. You can find the scoring guide and questionnaire I used here.


  • Alexandra

    August 28, 2014 at 6:32 am

    I love this idea!! I will present it to Celeste!

  • susanhomeschooling

    August 29, 2014 at 7:26 am

    I love this! I’ve done a life path drawing before, where the road curves around, but I never thought of having my kids do it with the letter of their name!

    • Eva Varga

      August 29, 2014 at 7:28 am

      Life Path … ooooh, that sounds cool! The island map doesn’t have to be in the shape of a letter. I had shown my kids the samples and they both were drawn to that style. There were some drawn in more organic shapes, too.

  • Michelle Caskey

    August 29, 2014 at 7:58 am

    This is a neat idea. These turned out great!

    • Eva Varga

      August 29, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Thank you; it was certainly fun! 🙂

  • Pingback: Life Map (Auto)biography Lesson Plans | Biog Online

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