How we learn about maps can be a bit tricky for kids. The first time I introduced maps in Kindergarten was not successful. Very – not successful. But, live and learn and try again! This is the best way I have found to introduce maps and make mapping meaningful for kids – and it’s tons of fun too!
One of the reasons learning about maps for kids can be tricky is because of the visual-spatial skills involved. Kids have to understand that a certain spot on the map represents another spot in the real world. A great way to make this a bit easier is to put wee ones into the map!
I chose a space that Sammy was very familiar with to introduce this idea of mapping. Using painters tape (yep, I know, more painters tape) I made a big, very simple, layout of the main floor of our house.
First I made a big rectangle, and then added lines to make the 3 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, and living room.
Next, I cut out really simple shapes to represent things in our house (and labelled everything with words too). We had our big couch, beds, Ben’s crib, kitchen table, bathtub and toilet – simple things that could easily be placed.
I then put everything into it’s place on the map and introduced the idea to Sammy. To introduce this concept of mapping I had Sammy stand inside the map. He started by the couch and walked to the kitchen table. Then he came out of the map, and walked it in our real house. He caught on very quickly, and this was really the only introduction he needed.
I let him explore the big map and he was able to find his bedroom, our bedroom, Ben’s bedroom, the bathroom, and the kitchen quite easily. So we took out all of the paper furniture and Sammy put it all back into the correct spots.
Next we made a little paper doll family. Well, not so much paper dolls as stick people drawn on folded construction paper …
We had a Mommy, Daddy, Madeline, Sammy, and Baby Ben (who I had to make twice, because the first time he was far to close in size to his BIG brother Sammy … ahem). Sammy played with this little paper family and used the map like a great big doll house – all the while learning about maps.
Learning about maps can be made meaningful and fun – which makes kids learn it easier too. This activity teaches wee ones all about visual-spatial skills by making the learning hands on.
The next step I used in Kindergarten was giving my wee ones the same map, but smaller and on a clip board, and used a penny ‘person’ to help them navigate. By using the same map the kids could quickly transfer their learning.
But I think Sammy enjoys using this as a great big 2D dollhouse! I have already had a request to add in the basement.
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