Hanging map is a 50-state puzzle Essay

Young geographers can literally grasp the shapes, sizes, andlocations of states as they arrange these foam-core puzzle pieces. Tabsof hook-and-loop fabric (Velcro) attach the states to a painted plywood backboard. Hung on a wall, the map beckons family and friends to learngeography and plan future travels. It takes about 8 hours to make. Cutting the pieces with a craftknife may seem tricky at first, but you’ll learn the skill quickly. Supplies. You’ll need a saw, a hammer, scissors, and athin-bladed craft knife with extra blades. Buy a half-sheet of 1/4-inchAC plywood or tempered hardboard; two 4-foot lengths of 1-by-1; eight1/4-inch brads; two #12 eye screws; 32 inches of picture wire; primer and paint; a multi-colored map of the United States that measures about40 inches straight east from Eureka, California (about $1.

50 to $4 inbook or map stores); a broad black felt-tip marker; a piece of 32- by40-inch foam-core (sold in art and crafts stores); spray glue; and about2 feet of 3/4-inch-wide hook-and-loop fabric fastener. Assmebly. First, cut the plywood into a 31- by 43-inch rectangle,and cut the 1-by-1s to 43 inches each. On the back side of the plywood,center the 1-by-1 strips about 6 inches from the top and bottom; tackthem in place from the front with four brads per board. Install eyescrews into the top of the upper strip and string picture wire betweenthem.

Prime and paint the plywood. To make the puzzle pieces, cover your work surface with heavycardboard so the craft knife won’t cut it. With your marker,outline the main body of the United States and the borders that separateAlaska and Hawaii from the rest of the map. With scissors, cut aroundyour outlines. Cover your work surface with newspaper. Spray glue ontoone side of the foam-core, wait until it’s tacky, and then lay downthe three map pieces, arranging them as shown in the photograph.

Usinga paper towel, press down firmly to force out air bubbles, starting fromcenter. Outline each state, keeping lines simple to make cutting easier.Retain your original outline of Hawaii.

Expand the borders of smallstates, like Rhode Island and Delaware, by borrowing slightly from theterritories of other states or bodies of water. Also expand the bordersof states like Maryland and Alaska, which have long, thin segments thatcould break off if not made more substantial. Discard newspaper and, to prevent blisters, put tape around theupper segment of the middle finger of your writing hand. Hold a craftknife in that hand as you would a pencil and cut out the perimeters ofthe continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. Position these three mappieces on the backboard and trace their outlines with your marker.Then, on your work surface, cut out individual states.

Outline the surface edge of each state again and arrange the stateson the backing. Starting with the West Coast, and working east,carefully lift up one state at a time and stick a 1/4- to 1/2-inchfuzzy-surfaced tab of hook-and-loop fastener to the back of the state.Attach to it a same-size piece os rough-surfaced fastener, remove itspaper backing, and put the state in place on the backboard.

On large orodd-shaped states, you may need to apply fastener at more than onepoint.

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