Learning About Maps
Map making keeps children moving in the right direction!
- Grades: PreK–K
- United States map, individual state or city maps, and a variety of road maps
- social studies
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 road map that represent highways. Identify two familiar places and invite childrento follow the highway linking both places.
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.
Show children a globe and encourage them to feel how the earth’s surface is represented on it. Help children find the United States on the globe and then locate countries from which their families may have immigrated or places where they may have visited. Hold a discussion about how the earth rotates, using a flashlight to explain the concept of night and day.
Travel Game. Write the names of states, countries, continents, or islands on small sheets of paper. Fold and place them into a hat or container. When children pick a place from the container, help them “read” it and locate it on the globe or map. Ask children to think of how they would get to this place from their home. What might affect their mode of transportation?
Mapmaking. Encourage children to create their own street maps, maps of places in their school and community, maps of pretend places, or treasure maps. 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.
Remember: At this stage, the important concept to convey is that maps are
useful to us in helping us find locations and routes from one location to another. An easy, fun approach to maps is the best introduction for young children.
Curriculum Connection: Math
Sequencing. 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 directions can be displayed or made into a class travel book.
My Map Book
by Sara Fanelli
(HarperCollins, 1995; $16.99)
The Once Upon a TimeMap Book
by B.G. Hennessy
(Candlewick, 2004; $11.99)
Scholastic First Encyclopedia: A First Atlas
by Sue Hook andAngela Royston
(Scholastic, 2000; $7.95)