Teaching Students About the Map of Rapa Nui


Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is a small and remote island located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. The island, which is a part of Chile, holds great historical and cultural significance due to its famous giant stone statues called moai. Teaching students about the map of Rapa Nui can be an engaging and informative experience that allows them to explore its geography and learn about this intriguing island.

Geographical Overview

Situated more than 3,500 kilometers west of Chile’s mainland, Rapa Nui measures approximately 25 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide, making it relatively small. This volcanic island features three main volcanic peaks: Terevaka at 507 meters high, Poike at 370 meters high, and Rano Kau at 324 meters high. Around the island, there are several beaches with varying types of sand – from white to red.

Introducing the Map to Students

When teaching students about the map of Rapa Nui, it’s essential to put its location into context. Show them where the island is situated relative to other continents and highlight its remoteness from other landmasses. Presenting this information by using an interactive map or a globe can help them grasp the concept easily.

After providing an overview, introduce students to different villages and key sites on the island. Major sites include Hanga Roa (the only town on the island), Rano Kau (a volcanic crater), Orongo (a significant ceremonial village), Anakena Beach (where Polynesian settlers first landed), and the Rano Raraku quarry (where moai statues were carved).

Cultural Significance: The Moai Statues

One cannot teach about Rapa Nui without mentioning its famous moai statues. These enormous sculptures were carved by native Polynesian inhabitants between 1250 and 1500 CE. There are about 1,000 moai statues on the island, with many still located at the Rano Raraku quarry.

Explain to students that these statues were believed to represent ancestors who protected the living, and their creation was a way of paying tribute. Discuss how each moai was carved from volcanic rock and then transported to various ahu (ceremonial platforms) around the island, often over long distances. This feat of engineering continues to inspire wonder among researchers today.

Classroom Activities

To make the study of Rapa Nui even more engaging, consider incorporating hands-on activities into your lessons. Here are some ideas:

Create a relief map: Have students use modeling clay or paper-mâché to create their relief map island that highlights its topography, including volcanic peaks and coastal features.

Build a moai statue: Students can make their mini moai statues out of clay or cardboard, learning about the significance and history of these iconic sculptures in the process.

Interactive quiz: Create a quiz with questions related to Rapa Nui’s geography, history, and cultural aspects.


Teaching students about the map of Rapa Nui offers them an opportunity to explore an enchanting destination with fascinating history and culture. As educators, we can bring Rapa Nui’s wonders into our classrooms through engaging lessons and activities that captivate students’ minds and spark their curiosity for exploration.

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