Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In these concept map lesson ideas, which are adaptable for grades 3-12, students create concept maps using BrainPOP’s free online Make-a-Map tool. This tool allows students to use text, images, and clips from BrainPOP movies to actively construct knowledge and make connections between ideas.


While you should spend several minutes familiarizing yourself with the basics of the Make-a-Map tool, it is not necessary to model for students how to use it. Make-a-Map was designed to be intuitive to use so that students can experiment with the features and learn through exploration. As long as your students have had experience with the brainstorming process and constructing word webs or concept maps in other formats, you can release them to explore Make-a-Map independently or with a partner.


The possibilities for the Make-A-Map tool are almost limitless! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use the BrainPOP Concept Mapping topic to teach the structure. Use the Concept Mapping Quiz to assess students' prior knowledge, and play the Concept Mapping Movie to build on what students already know. Students can fill in a printed copy of the concept map Activity for practice (or type directly into the form online.) They can also use the Graphic Organizer to sketch out a concept map on paper.
  • Make a "skeleton map" to provide additional structure for students:
  • Create the "bare bones" of a concept map for your students and save it in the Make-A-Map tool. When students login to My BrainPOP, they will be able to access a copy of your map and add on to it. You can provide just the outline of the map, or make a few key associations and have students fill in the rest. This is a fantastic way to introduce the Make-A-Map tool to students, especially in the elementary grades.

  • Use the retrieval based concept mapping strategy:
  • Research shows that the act of retrieving everything you can remember about a topic is helpful for recall later and increases the effectiveness of concept mapping. Prior to showing a BrainPOP movie, have students use Make-a-Map to record everything they already know about the topic without integrating any of the images or videos from BrainPOP. After watching the movie, have them edit and extend the map to incorporate new knowledge.

  • Compare and contrast movies:
  • Assign two different movies to students and them make a concept map to show the similarities and differences. For example, students can compare the work of two artists/musicians, body systems, simple machines, or world cultures or holidays.

  • Make cross-curricular connections:
  • Challenge students to integrate ideas from a science and a math movie, or an English and a Social Studies movie, to show the interconnectedness of various ideas and fields of study. Students can also extend thematic learning by exploring various aspects of a topic in one concept map. For example they might research the history of money

  • Use Make-a-Map as a resource for blended learning/flipped classroom:
  • Students can begin their concept maps in school under your guidance, save them, and then login at home to pick up where they left off. During the next day's in-class instruction, students can share their progress with a partner or group, or confer with you in an individual consultation.

  • Create a concept map in a whole class collaboration:
  • At the beginning of your unit of student, create a new Make-A-Map. As you watch each related movie on BrainPOP, review what students have learned by having them suggest information to add to the map. Incorporate information learned through other resources, as well. At the end of the unit, have students access the concept map with a partner to re-watch the key clips from BrainPOP movies, review vocabulary, solidify connections between concepts, etc. in preparation for your final assessment.

  • Use the note-taking feature for students to record questions, thoughts, and explanations.:
  • In the bottom lefthand portion of the Make-A-Map screen, click on the notepad icon to reveal a text box where students are prompted "explain your map." Students can use this area as virtual scratch paper to record ideas they want to include in their map later on and write down anything they're unsure about. They can also use that area to write an explanation or summary of their concept map. When students click the submit button, the information in the Explain Your Map text box will be submitted to the teacher along with the concept map. Similarly, clicking the print button will print the map as well as the explanatory text.

    Want more ideas? Check out 50+ Creative Uses for the Make-A-Map Tool.