Our Poverty Point Addresses

Subject Areas:
Art, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies

The student will:

One hour to trace neighborhood map
Two hours to complete student activity

Overhead projector
Map of Poverty Point overhead transparency
Map of local neighborhood with map scale given in miles
Large sheet of white paper
Blank overhead transparency sheet for neighborhood map
Marker that writes on plastic
18 inch square of clear plastic for Poverty Point overlay map
Small round label for each student

Must Know Info:

Charles H. Webb (1982)
courtesy of LSU Dept. of Geography and Anthropology

The man-made earthworks at the Poverty Point site near Epps are enormous. The six earthen ridges are arranged in concentric arcs surrounding a large central plaza. The ends of the outermost ridges are 3,950 feet apart, or almost 3/4 mile. The distance across the plaza between the inner ridges is about 1,950 feet. The earthworks form a C-shaped pattern which ends at the bluffs of Bayou Macon.

The semicircular ridge which is closest to the central plaza is called Ridge 1. The ridges are numbered going outwards so that the longest outer ridge is called Ridge 6. The site is also divided into sections by aisles which crosscut through the ridges. These sections are known as the north, northwest, west, southwest, and south sections of the Poverty Point site. The dividing aisles do not divide the earthworks into sections of equal size. The aisles are from 35 to 160 feet wide.

In order to give students a better understanding of the immense size of the site, superimpose a clear plastic Poverty Point map on top of a neighborhood map and let the students determine where they would live. Poverty Point addresses may be formed by naming the section and the ridge number, for example, a student might live in the Southwest Section on Ridge 3. Once students have discovered each others' Poverty Point addresses, the immense size of the site will be clear as they ride their bicycles through the neighborhood!


1. Make an overhead transparency of the Poverty Point map included in this lesson.

2. Make an overhead transparency of the neighborhood map with a scale in miles.

3. Tape the clear plastic sheet to a wall, project the Poverty Point map on it, and trace in permanent marker. Be sure to include the map scale and compass directions.

4. Project the neighborhood map so that it shines on top of the Poverty Point clear plastic. Move your projector forward or backward until both map scales are the same. When the map scales are the same, do not move your projector.

5. Do not move the projector as you take the plastic down and put up white paper to draw the neighborhood map.

6. Trace the neighborhood map onto the white paper. Label a few major streets to provide points of reference for the students.

7. Students will enjoy labeling the streets, bayous, major landmarks (Burger King, McDonalds), and the location of the school. Students will need to create a map key and color code highways, interstate systems, rivers, railroads, etc.

8. Students should use round labels to find and mark the location of their homes. This is an excellent opportunity for map skills review and instruction in compass directions, map scale, and giving directions from one location to another. Make up questions similar to those below or let students quiz each other:

9. Place the plastic map of Poverty Point on top of the neighborhood map and adjust it so that the school is on a ridge and that as many children's houses as possible are covered by the plastic. Keep the directional orientation so that North is still North, etc.

10. Students will look for their labels on the neighborhood map and determine which ridge and section they would live on at Poverty Point. Each student will identify his Poverty Point address and mark it on the clear plastic map of the site.

11. Students will enjoy making little huts from card stock to put on the Poverty Point plastic map. Tape or hot glue the huts on the plastic overlay above the labels on the neighborhood map. The students really enjoy knowing who lives in what section of the Poverty Point site! Since many students are able to ride bicycles or walk around their neighborhood, this activity will give them a clearer picture of the immense size of the Poverty Point site.

12. Use the overhead transparency of the Poverty Point map to help teach map scale. Project the map of Poverty Point on the wall and have students use a string to determine the distance between two locations on the map. Use the map scale to measure the string, finding the actual distance between the locations. Next, move the projector so that the map scale becomes either larger or smaller. Use the string to once again measure the distance between the same two locations. The measurement on the string will be different. Ask students if the distance between the places has changed. They should figure out that the scale will have changed along with the projected map. Students should check this out by measuring the string on the altered map scale. Compare the two projections of the Poverty Point map and inquire about the advantages of one or the other. Students should notice that a map scale covering less distance results in a close up picture of the same area.