Concept Mapping

I was introduced to concept mapping several years ago, but didn't really start using it my classroom until this school year.  When I was asked to be a science trainer for our district in 2011, the district wanted us to use concept mapping as a way to teach vocabulary. They wanted us to encourage our teachers to use concept mapping instead of your standard definitions to learn science vocabulary.

Since I had never used this type of mapping in my lessons, I spent quite a bit of time watching the other trainers working with the teachers and learning how to use them myself. Unfortunately, I don't think many of the other teachers in my building are using the maps, so my students don't see them until 5th grade.

This year I have tried to implement them fully into our science curriculum (I'm thinking about doing social studies next year). We start off the same each time.

After each science activity (we use the FOSS kits), the students come up with words to put on our word wall or word bank.  Each day we use a different color.

5th grade Human Body FOSS kit
After coming up with our words, we then put them on the concept map.  The hardest part for the students seems to be the wording that ties each of the words together.  I try not to lead them into what I think it should be, but to let them come up with how the words connect with each other. 

5th grade Human Body FOSS kit
Each day after we are satisfied with what we have done to the map, the students copy that part of the map into their science journals.

5th grade Food Webs and Chains FOSS kit

For more information on using concept maps in your classroom, I have listed a couple of resources:

This is an article from Stanford, Using Concept Maps in the Science Classroom, can give you a little more insight to mapping in your science class.

Science-West also has an interesting read:  Concept Mapping.

Do you use concept maps in your classroom?  We would love to hear about how you successfully implement it into your curriculum.


  1. I absolutely love your concept maps. I think it really makes sense for tough content topics, and I bet it really helps the kids learn the material by making the important connections. I love it! I am totally going to try to use these next year. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. I'd love to see what you do with them next year! Please share when you post something about them.