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Map Reader Badge

Map Reader badge sheet
We complete this badge over a two or three evenings (with a short hike on one of the evenings), together with a day hike. We usually do it in conjunction with the navigator badge as there is some overlap between the activities. We also have a map quest activity which takes around 45 minutes to complete and tests all of the skills that the Cubs have learnt.

1 Understand how to use the key of an Ordnance Survey map (and 6 Be able to identify ten Ordnance Survey map symbols).
Combine the activities for requirements 1 and 6 during the first map reader session, as there is some overlap between them. Provide an Ordnance Survey map key for a 1:50,000 map for the Cubs to refer to, a map and list of symbols to find on it (which they usually complete in pairs), and a map symbol sheet where they have to identify some symbols and draw others.
> Leader instructions for map symbols (requirements 1 and 6) (PDF)
> Ordnance Survey Map Key (PDF)
> Map symbols list (PDF)
> Map to find symbols on (PDF)
> Answer map showing circled symbols (PDF)
> Map symbols picture quiz (PDF)
> Map symbols answer sheet (PDF)

At the start of the second session, to test what they can remember, play a matching relay game using map symbol cards - for each map symbol there is a photo of the feature and a word card to describe it (we have a laminated reusable set of these cards). Each Six has around ten sets of cards. The cards are placed in a random pile on the opposite side of the room. Cubs take it in turns to run up, take a card, and bring it back to their Six. As a Six they must work together to form the cards in their sets. The first Six with all their sets correct wins. The cards can also be used for other matching games (snap, memory games etc).
> Map symbols cards (PDF)

Run a final activity at the end of the final meeting: Wolf Island. A leader slowly reads out the instructions while Cubs work in pairs to draw the island as described, using the correct symbols (they can refer to a key):
> Wolf Island instructions (PDF)
> Wolf Island - how it might look (PDF)

2 Be able to use six-figure grid references.
Start by making sure that Cubs understand how four figure references work before moving on to six figure references. Use grid reference overlay cards, printed onto clear acetate, to help the Cubs understand how to divide up the large squares into smaller squares. It helps to use worksheets and maps which have been prepared specifically for use in these activities:
> Leader instructions for six figure grid references (requirement 2) (PDF)
> Grid references work sheet (PDF)
> Grid references map (PDF)
> Grid references guide (PDF) - print on clear acetate
> Grid references work sheet - answers (PDF)

Run a game where cones are laid out in the middles of the room. Six of the cones have letters and numbers taped to the underside. Cubs work in Sixes and take it in turns to run up and look under a cone. If there is nothing there they put it back. If they find a card they remember the letter and number and write the number down on their sheet. When they have found all six numbers they need to find what is at the grid reference they have found (using the map from the activity above). The winning Six is the first to correctly identify the location.
> Grid game - Cub instructions (PDF)
> Grid game cards (PDF)

3 Explain how to find north on a map and how to set a map to north.
Start by making sure that Cubs understand the advantage of having a map set. Nine coloured cones are set out as shown on the diagram below. Cubs are then told to follow the route shown on the map. If they always keep the map the same way up, they will usually get confused and go the wrong way. If they repeat the activity but turning the map so that it is always lines up with the way the cones are laid out, no matter which direction they are heading, they will find it much easier to stay on track.
> Map setting diagram (PDF)

Once they understand that it is useful to set a map and keep it oriented, make sure that Cubs know that on the vast majority of maps (including all Ordnance Survey maps) north is at the top. If you travel along a road from the bottom to the top you will be travelling north. Then show them how they can use a compass to find north and explain that if they always make sure that the top of the map is pointing north they can make sure that the map stays set. Then go on a short hike where Cubs have to follow a specified route on a map, making a note of each road they walk along. Split into groups, each following a slightly different route:
> Leader instructions for hikes (PDF)
> Maps for hikes (PDF)
> Road record for hikes (PDF)

4 Locate your home and Pack meeting place on an Ordnance Survey or street map.
Get them to do both, starting with a street map and then seeing how this translates across onto an Ordnance Survey map. This can be completed in conjunction with requirement 3 of the navigator badge.
> Street map covering all the roads that the Cubs live on (PDF)
> Street map road index (PDF)
> Ordnance survey map covering exactly the same area and at the same scale (PDF)

5 Understand contour lines on an Ordnance Survey map.
This is one of the most challenging things to get a Cub to understand, so get it down to its basics:
> Our contour model and leader information (PDF)
> Information sheet - how hills and mountains are shown on a map (PDF)
> Contours worksheet (PDF)
> Contours worksheet - answer (PDF)

6 Be able to identify ten Ordnance Survey map symbols.
See requirement 1 above.

7 Use an Ordnance Survey map during an outdoor activity.
Get the Cubs to go on day a hike. Give them a blank map and get them to copy the hike route onto this. Also give them a set of instructions to follow and a series of questions to try and answer on their way round (gives them all something to do and keeps them interested):
> Blank hike map (PDF)
> Marked hike map (PDF)
> Hike instructions (PDF)
> Hike questions (PDF)

8 Know the first eight points of a compass and use them during an outdoor activity.
We cover this in a separate compass work evening.