lighthouse blog

Lighthouses are depended upon by sailors — and loved by tourists for their often quaint and unusual shapes.

Lighthouses are structures that project bright signal lights.  These unique buildings, which are often tower-like, have a sole purpose:  to protect sailers and their vessels.  Lighthouses have been built since ancient times to provide illumination to alert sailors navigating in boats to avoid dangerous shorelines.  These treacherous areas might include rocks or reefs or shoals, or other geographic features dangerous to boats and ships as they move along a coastline or enter a harbor.

The earliest lighthouses used mirrors to reflect light from fires that burned in a furnace.   In the past, they required a “keeper” who would be sure the lights were maintained.  The keepers of the lighthouses would live in the structure, often a lonely and isolated job.  Today most lighthouses do not have a staff and are electronically run.


This early lighthouse, an octagonal wooden tower completed in 1698, was the first offshore lighthouse, built to warn sailors of the dangerous Eddystone Rocks in the United Kingdom. 

Lighthouses around the world have been designed in all shapes and sizes, depending on location and the needs of the area where they were built.   Some lighthouses are built on land, others sit directly in the water.  Not all lighthouses are in or around oceans and seas.  For instance, there are many lighthouse in the Great Lakes of the United States, all in fresh water.


Here is a favorite lighthouse of ours in our native state of RHODE ISLAND!  What is the lighthouse nearest to you and your students?

The history and use of lighthouses is a great topic that dovetails easily  with map work.   See how we incorporated it into our FREE digital Basic Map Skills  MAP CHALLENGE — use with your smartboard or classroom projector!

 Great for our Basic Map Skills map, free HERE on our website!  



Students can write about not only lighthouses, but the images they inspired, like some wonderful coats of arms that feature lighthouse images.  See more  HERE!  Click on the “Basic Map Skills MAP CHALLENGE!”