How to Transform Your Classroom This School Year With a Scratch Map

Back to school season is almost here and we all know that means one thing: countless trips to Target, Walmart or the local dollar store to scavenge the school supply aisles and stock up on all of our classroom necessities (along with the not-so-necessary items that mysteriously find their way into the cart)!

As you check the usual items off of your list, don’t overlook the amazing scratch the world maps that have been making an appearance in more and more stores over the past year.

Not sure what we’re talking about? These beautiful posters are covered in a thin layer of foil which, when scratched off with a coin, reveals a colorful map of the world hiding underneath. While these scratch maps are typically used as personalized travel logs, they can also serve as engaging educational tools in the classroom.

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Why We Love Scratch Maps in the Classroom

With all due respect, that yellowed world map that has hung in the classroom for the past 50 years probably doesn’t do a whole lot to inspire students to become curious, global citizens. With a scratch map the interactive classroom applications are absolutely endless! Below are just a few of our favorites!

  • On the top of our list is using the scratch map in the ESL classroom (or any diverse classroom for that matter) where teachers can invite new students to locate and “scratch” their country of origin. If there are multiple students from the same country teachers should have alternatives prepared such as having students add a sticker or push-pin to the country. By using this map teachers can celebrate the diversity of their students and actively contribute to creating a culturally responsive classroom.
  • Are you a teacher who loves to travel? Scratch off your own visited destinations and use your personalized travel map as an ice-breaker on the first day of school. This is a great way to introduce yourself to your students, spark conversation, get students interested in travel and have an educational world map in the classroom.
  • For world language teachers an important part of the curriculum involves culture and teaching about foreign destinations. As you introduce each new place to be studied, have students take turns locating and scratching the destinations. By the end of the year your map will be an accurate representation of all the places your class has studied-a learning map in the most literal sense!
  • If you find yourself torn between the ideas mentioned above, why not combine them all? Start the new school year by introducing yourself and showing students where you have traveled and where you are from. At this point you could invite other students to scratch off where they have traveled, where they are from or even where their ancestors are from. As the year progresses, have students scratch places that they are learning about in any subject as well as places that are important in current events/news. The more your map is scratched the more stories it has to tell!
  • Note: One thing we do not recommend is only using the map for student travel (having students scratch where they have traveled) – this could highlight divisions between students who have the means to travel and those who don’t.


So, as you embark on the fun (yet monumental) task of setting up your classroom this year, why not include a scratch map to mix up your regular décor? We promise you won’t regret it!

Have you used a scratch map in your classroom? Let us know-we’d love to hear from you!

*Scratch maps can be found in many large stores as well as from several retailers online