Poetry Prompt: Map-Making

Poetry Prompt: Map-Making

For today’s poetry prompt, you’re going to be creating your own world! You’ll have the chance to construct coastlines, craft mountains, and decorate deserts to your heart’s content. So go on and dive into the world of map-making!

Before you begin the intricate process of map-making or cartography, you’ll need a few supplies. While it’s not essential, an atlas or a printout of world and national maps will be very helpful. You’ll also want paper and pencils of all different colors to create your map.

To begin creating your map, you can either draw the outline for your world or trace bits of real coastlines using the pages of your atlas or the map printouts. Tracing a real-world coastline will help you get all the detail of inlets and peninsulas and funny-looking islands.

Once you’ve got the basic outline of your world or country in place, it’s time to figure out the major features of your landscape. To do that, you’ll need a key or legend. This is a part of a map that shows what the colors and symbols on your map mean. Take a look at this page on map legends from Wikipedia for ideas on how you can illustrate areas like swamps, forests, and deserts on your map.

Begin coloring in the different sections of your map. Draw the shapes of major mountain ranges, trace the rivers and lakes running through your world, and add the deserts, grasslands, and swamps or marshes to your countryside.

Finally, you’ll want to add cities and names to your created landscape. It’s lots of fun to add names to your mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and other geographical features, too. The more creative you get with these names the better!

Now that you’ve created your map, it’s time to use that map to inspire some poetry. You can describe the landscape in your poem by using the four points of the compass. For example:

High in the north is where you’ll find
The Glass Mountains, whose silver clay
Lines Cloud Rock Canyon and marks the way
Toward the Desert of Ice that lies behind.

If you don’t want to describe every feature of your landscape, you can focus on just one. Try creating a legend to explain why that geographical feature looks the way it does, or how it got its name. Go crazy with the Legend of Peanut Mountain or the story of the Forest of Hollow Trees. Enjoy your map and all the stories contained in it!

Map-Making Game

For a fun two-person mapmaking game, take a piece of paper and fold it in half. On one half of the paper, have the first person draw half of a map. Re-fold the paper so that a tiny sliver of the first person's map is showing on the other side. Make sure the edges of the continent or coastline are clear enough that the next person can see where the land and water begins and ends.

Then, hand the paper over to the next person with only the blank half of the paper showing. The other person will “complete” the second half of the map using the tiny strip of map they can see as their guide. Unfold the piece of paper to see the full continent that two people have created!


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