To begin, I print out a map of our neighborhood in New York City. I ask students to choose several locations. They begin at school and then draw their walking path to the place. Then they measure the distance as well as the displacement to the location. They use a scale and calculate the actual distance.
The project that follows up with this is that students then measure themselves and using a scale, create a miniature version of themselves and a piece of furniture. Whenever we are dealing with displacement and scale problems in the future, such as in May, students ask, "What is displacement again?" and I can answer, "remember your map?" and then they remember. They are also quick to point out when something has or hasn't been drawn to scale.
Recently, I found this website that even goes so far as to point out different kinds of scales and it even has an interactive tool to measure places on a map! You can answer and ask it to automatically check you! It is probably the best thing ever. Now, if a student is absent, then he or she can teach themselves about scale, practice, and even review.