Learning About Maps
Map-making keeps children moving in the right direction!
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
Children will learn about different types of maps, how to read a map, and how to create their own map.
- United States map or individual state or city map
- Variety of travel maps
Introduction to Maps
Step 1: Ask children to share what they already know about maps. Show them different types of maps and discuss how maps are used. Point out the lines on a travel map that represent highways. Identify two familiar places and invite children to follow the "highway" linking both places.
Step 2: Show children a United States map and assist them in locating the state where they reside. Do they know the names of any other states? Engage children in a discussion about the different colors on a map. How can we tell one state from another? What color represents water? Assist children in locating major bodies of water, mountain ranges, and islands.
Step 3: Show children a globe and encourage them children to feel the how the earth's surface is represented on it. Ask children to find the United States on the globe and then to locate countries where their families may have immigrated from or places where they may have visited. Have a discussion about how the earth rotates, using a flashlight to explain the concept of night and day.
Step 1: Write the names of states, countries, continents, or islands on small sheet of paper, and fold them and place them into a hat or container.
Step 2: When children pick a place from the container, help them locate it on the globe or map.
Step 3: Ask children to think of how they would get to this place from their home. What landforms may affect their mode of transportation?
Step 1: Encourage children to create their own travel maps, maps of places in their school and community, or maps of pretend places or treasure maps.
Step 2: Send home paper and ask children to make maps of their bedrooms. Children will also enjoy using rulers or a yardstick to make lines and borders for their maps.
Sequencing: Travel Directions
Ask children to choose a place that they like to visit and to think about how they might get to this special place. Work with children individually to assist them in organizing the sequence of their travel directions. Record their directions on paper. Provide children with drawing materials to illustrate the place or places they have described. Invite children to share their work with their classmates. Their travel directions can be displayed or made into a class travel book.