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Sense of Place: Geography #3: Travel Guides and Panorama Pops

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, we move away from atlases and places on the map and focus on creating projects that promote an understanding of special locations.  Using travel guides, country books, and city “Panorama Pops”, students work together to create an accordion-style book that highlights features of a particular region.  This is a creative lesson and will be followed by a travel writing lesson next week.  In the first two lessons of this unit, the children saw images from all around the world.  Now it is time to create something beautiful to showcase their new understandings.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

4 and above


Working in small groups, students will create an accordion-style book to highlight their understanding of special places in a country or city.  (AASL 2.16:  “Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.”)

Suggested Time:

50-55 minutes

Success Criteria:

Students will work in small groups to create accordion-style books highlighting their understanding of a country or city.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students that in the last two lessons they reviewed atlas skills and then practiced finding landmarks in a world atlas.  Today, explain that they will get to use their creative energy to showcase some of the amazing places they have learned about.

Show the collected travel guides and Ms. McMenemy’s “Panorama Pops” books.  Ask what it is about these books that might make you want to visit those places.  Specifically, ask students what the travel guides and “Panorama Pops” books highlight.   Some ideas might include:

  • Sights and attractions
  • Famous architecture including bridges, fountains, skyscrapers, churches, or monuments
  • Shopping venues
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Parks
  • Entertainment or leisure venues

2. Main:

Explain that today the students will be working in small groups to create an accordion-style book like Ms. McMenemy’s “Panorama Pops” books.  They will use the blank sheets of paper and collage technique.  Once completed, the individual pieces will be assembled into accordion-style books using duct tape. (See attached photos of completed project.)

Show the children the lesson outline.  Use a timer or hourglass to make sure that you stay on target and can finish in one period.

  • With your group, using the available information resources, choose a country or city to highlight (two minutes).  Example: Dubai, UAE.
  • With your group, decide which student will represent which item/building/feature. Burj Khalifa, the beaches, Burj al Arab, Miracle Gardens, Legoland, etc. (3 minutes)
  • Use the white paper, collage materials, and markers to create one piece that highlights that particular feature.  Example:  One child creates a collage image to represent Dubai’s beaches.  (20 minutes)
  • Glue the collage pieces to the cardboard pieces.  (3 minutes)
  • Using duct tape, tape the cardboard pieces together “accordion style.” (7 minutes)

3. Conclusion:

There won’t be much time left over, but encourage the children to take a look at the other group’s projects.  Take photographs as the children work and certainly take photos of the finished products before they leave the library!  Share on the class Weebly or in a library display.

  1. A couple of Sarah McMenemy’s “Panorama Pops” City Guides. Either New York, Paris, Venice, Washington D.C., Berlin, or London.  These are accordion-style, pop-out books that will give the children an idea of what is possible.
  2. A collection of travel guide books or country books, whichever you can easily pull from your collection.
  3. Duct tape or packing tape.
  4. Pieces of thin cardboard a bit larger than the size of paper you’d like your students to use.  I typically use the sides of copy paper boxes.
  5. Blank paper
  6. Colored paper scraps for collage.
  7. Markers, crayons, pencils
  8. Rulers
  9. Miscellaneous crafting objects like buttons, sequins, cotton balls, sandpaper scraps, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, Q-tips, feathers, etc., for use in the collage pieces.

At the International School of Stuttgart, we were privileged to host Ms. Sarah McMenemy as our visiting author one year for our Book Week celebrations.  Sarah was a lovely guest and conducted art workshops all week long with our students.  Using torn paper, markers, and quite a bit of imagination, Sarah guided our students through the creation of breathtaking pieces.  I highly recommend her work, not only the “Panorama Pops” series, but also each of the picture books she has illustrated.  They are exquisitely done and tie to many of the most popular PYP units.  If you’d like to visit Sarah’s web site, you can do that here:  http://www.sarahmcmenemy.com/.  Sarah made the accordion-style books with our Grade 5 classes, and it was that week with her that inspired me to incorporate the project into other units of inquiry.  Thank you, Sarah, and thank you to Mr. Whitaker, aka Dangerboy, and the entire ISS Grade 5 team!

If you don’t think that your kids will cooperate well, if you are pressed for time, or if you would simply rather they work independently, ask the kids to work independently and create a piece to represent one landmark or natural feature from their unit of study – perhaps one landmark from the city or country where your school is located.  Then, once everyone has created one piece, you can put them all together to make a class book.  Either way will work.  The important thing is to let the kids express their understanding by creating a piece that is used in a book reminiscent of Ms. McMenemy’s pop-up city books.

Recommended books for this lesson: 

  1. Any of Sarah McMenemy’s “Panorama Pops” books, including Berlin, New York, Paris, Venice, Washington D.C., or London.
  2. A collection of travel guides from your library collection or public library. They are usually available in these series:  Let’s Go, Lonely Planet, Insight Guides, Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Travel, DK Top 10, Marco Polo, Rick Steves, and Fodor’s.
Key Terms:

Landmarks, Geography, Maps, Pop-Ups, Architecture, Sight-Seeing

My Favorite Place

Our Favorite Places

Completed Accordion Book