In my classroom in the U.S. I had county maps, bike trail maps, maps torn out of National Geographic and big laminated world maps. Through maps my students were learning not only about keys and cardinal directions but how to view their world and their place in it. Who is at the center of the map? Who is included? What bounds us—mountains and rivers or political borders? Many of my favorite maps were freebies or hand-me-downs from other teachers but I did shell out for a revolutionary world map, the Peters projection. The old-school maps still used in most schools in the US are technically accurate but misleading—designed for navigation to account for the curvature of the earth, they don’t show the relative size of the continents. And when I say “old-school” I actually mean old—the Mercator projection (the most common world map in US schools) dates from the 1500s. And as far as distortion, the map shows Greenland as equal in size to China, which is actually more than four times larger. Thus a child using the Mercator as a reference would think the US is pretty big, near the size of Africa, when in fact it is several times smaller. The Peters projection instead provides an “equal-area” picture of the world’s land masses—Asia is shown as the behemoth it is, and Europe as many times smaller. Another thought-provoking map is the “Downunder” map, showing the global South on “top” and the North below (since there’s no “up” or “down,” or North or South, in space!) Alternatively, the Hobo-Dyer projection includes equal-area representation and a reverse-side “upside-down” map. Since I love National Geographic maps, I was thrilled to find out they have a new website for teachers that includes many free maps—you can download whole “mapmaker kits,” and print then reassemble large-size maps (from tabletop to wall-size). You can choose maps with political features or natural, topographic features. Plus they produced a great video tutorial to go with the site. For a different global perspective, the UN has hundreds of maps for download. They have regional maps, country maps, maps labeled in French and others like “Earthquake Relief in Haiti” and “UN Peacekeeping Operations.” I hoped the site would have maps in other languages, but while the UN site itself can be read in different languages (French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian) the PDF files themselves are in English. Source.