Maps: scheme of work

The activities outlined below can either be used together to form a unit of work or as a series of discrete activities enabling the theme to be explored in greater depth.

With particular reference to examples from the Arab world and Middle East, students will explore the theme of maps and map-making.

A student sketching a map


Discover the Arab World image cards - Maps: pdf (634 kb)
- Brooch with the coin of the Roman emperor Philip I
- Appliqué hanging for the doorway of a tent
- Poster of Yasser Arafat
- Hands of Fatima
- Embroidered dress

Maps of the Arab world: pdf (1152 kb)
Ancient Civilisations website
See the further resources section for other useful websites and support materials

Optional: find maps of the Middle East and Britain online, to show students different types of map

Materials: General art and textile materials including cotton/calico/canvas sheet, sewing equipment, glue, scissors, etc.


In this unit, students will:

  • create a map of the Arab world/Middle East using a variety of textile techniques and materials
  • develop an awareness of textiles techniques and Arab world/Middle Eastern textile patterns
  • develop an awareness of Arab world/Middle Eastern geography and history through maps and trade routes


Ask the students to name as many countries in the Arab world as they can. Project and discuss the maps of the Arab world. Identify how the Arab world overlaps part of the Middle East. Using atlases or the internet, ask the students to locate the city and/or country where the Discover the Arab World objects originated where possible. The information could be transferred to blank copies of maps or recorded virtually using Google Earth.

Highlight the brooch with the coin of the Roman emperor Philip I. Talk about the ancient trade routes across Rome’s eastern provinces and the trade links with Britain and other parts of the world.

Introduce the unit task – students are to create a textile map of the Arab world.

Activity 1

Ask the students to research maps of the Arab world and Middle East and historical and modern trade routes across the region. Ask them to search the Ancient Civilisations website and explore ancient trade routes to identify some of the goods that were traded. Ask them to find out what goods are traded today. They should record their research on photocopied maps stuck in their sketchbooks and annotate where necessary.

Activity 2

Talk to the students about using their research to create a textile panel. Look closely at the signs and symbols used on different maps, including OS maps and ask them to make a series of studies in sketchbooks of maps and symbols that show the journeys goods might travel (eg from Egypt to Britain).

Activity 3

Use the internet to show the students a selection of Middle Eastern textiles. They could also look at the following images from the Discover the Arab World resources: Appliqué hanging for the doorway of a tent; Poster of Yasser Arafat; Hands of Fatima; Embroidered dress. Talk about repeating patterns and the qualities of materials. Get them to experiment with layering fabrics, repeat patterns, gluing, stitching, padding, and weaving.

Activity 4

Talk to the students about different textile techniques (dyeing or printing shapes onto the fabric, using sponges and diffusers to produce an effect, using water-soluble pencils, collage, fabric transfer crayon, etc) and demonstrate. Ask them to test out some of these approaches.

Activity 5

Ask the students to create their own map of the Arab world or Middle East using textile techniques and materials of their choosing. Towns and cities, landscape features, important buildings, historic sites, and roads and boundaries could be included. They should devise their own symbols and include a key on the map. In their sketchbooks they should explain what they did and why.


Once they have completed the work, the students should write up and evaluate the process, explaining the significance of their map-making piece.