Community Mapping 101

Use This Tool Along With Your Critical Thinking Skills to Explore Your Community

In this activity, you will practice many types of research including observation, Internet, and print media searches, as well as interviews with family, friends, and community leaders who become collaborators with you on your efforts. Through this activity, you will:

  • Learn about the geography and layout of your local area
  • Determine areas of need for people, other animals, and the environment
  • Identify resources that may support efforts to meet community needs
  • Form a deeper commitment and resulting empathy towards the people, other animals, and environment that makes up your community.


2 hours minimum, suggested multi-day/week project


  • Colored pencils, markers, or Crayons
  • Regular pencil or pen
  • Large sheets of white paper
  • Glue or tape
  • Stickers
  • Optional: Map (printed, purchased, or hand-drawn)
  • Optional: Internet
  • Optional: Google My Maps or Esri ArcGIS Online (see digital mapping tutorials)
  • Optional: Building materials (blocks, Legos, boxes, etc)

Full Community Mapping 101

You can use this PDF of the full Community Mapping 101 activity online, downloaded to your computer, or printed.
Get the full Community Mapping 101 activity here!

Mapping through Lesson Plans

Learn how to align mapping with different subjects by using the Roots & Shoots Lesson Plans
Get Lesson Plans here!

Observing Your Community

Take note of what is on the way to school or work when on the bus, in a car, biking, etc. Imagine you are looking at the community from a bird's eye view. Why is it important to learn more about your community? What are the roads around your location? Are there any major intersections? Is your community inclusive and accessible? Are there sidewalks, curb ramps, and audible crossing signals? Are there signs in multiple languages if your community speaks many languages? Do you see animals, plants, or trees? How do they survive and how did they get there? 

Creating Your Community Map

Decide how you want to make your map and gather your materials. You can draw or print your own map, create a digital map, make a 3-D model, or go material free and outline your map outside in the dirt. Once you've drawn your map, use colors or stickers to mark community assets. To determine which method would be best for you, view the full Community Mapping 101 activity.
  • Places for school/work
  • Highlight major streets, bus routes, bike paths, or sidewalks
  • Libraries/ community centers
  • Places of worship
  • Grocery stores/ corner stores
  • Favorite restaurants
  • Hospitals or health clinics
  • Shelters and food banks
  • Abandoned buildings
  • Play Spaces
  • Animal sightings/ species
  • Domestic animal use (dog parks, dog friendly trials, etc.)
  • Animal shelters
  • Animal control facility
  • Animal hospitals
  • Animal sanctuaries
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Wild and/or protected spaces
  • Bodies of water
  • Mountains, beaches, etc.
  • Recycling centers, landfill/waste management
  • Water facilities
  • Local Parks
  • Green Spaces (yards, tree boxes, etc)
  • Vacant Lots
  • Power sources (coal, nuclear, wind, solar, and geothermal plants)
  • Environmental services (watersheds, reservoirs, wetlands)
  • Reflect on Your Community Map

    Referring to your map, do any of the marked features above serve more than just one category? Look for one quality about your community that makes it a great habitat for people, one that makes it a great habitat for animals, and one that makes it a great environmental habitat. Is your community meeting the basic needs of people and animals? Then, look for one quality your community could improve to make it a better habitat for people, one that could improve to make it a better habitat for animals, one that could improve to make it a better environmental habitat.
    About Roots & Shoots

    We are nurturing the compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

    Get To Know Our Model

    New Report