Get the best out of your OS map

More than 715,500 free Ordnance Survey Explorer maps will be delivered to Year 7 pupils next September. Owning an Ordnance Survey map of their local area opens up new possibilities for independent study and homework - above and beyond developing basic map skills.

The first thing pupils will do is find where they live. Use the OS website to download - again, free of charge - a map of the area from the 19th century. How has where they live changed?

Compare two grid squares with an aerial photograph of the same area, obtainable from a website such as What can you tell from the map that you cannot tell from the aerial photograph, and vice versa?

Estimate the percentage of land used in a square, or squares, and compare this with the percentage land-use figures in the Geographical Association's 1996 survey, see right. How is your area similar and different to the Land Use-UK results? Why? What "other" types of land use did you record?

Draw a sketch map of what you think the square with your school andor home will look like (probable future) in 50 years' time, and what you would like it to look like (preferred future). Add labels to your sketches to explain the changes.

Select a block of 20 squares. Write five clues to locate one of the 20 squares, with the hardest clue first. Ask a partner each of the clues in turn. How many clues does it take them to find the square?

Select four squares and locate each square with its four-figure reference. Three of the squares should have something in common that the fourth square does not have. Can your partner spot the odd one out? Can either of you find a square that matches the odd one out?

Keith Grimwade is head of Cambridgeshire LEA's Curriculum Advisory Service and chair of the Geographical Association's Education Standing Committee

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