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Charting Students' "Travels" in Their Reading

By Beth Newingham on March 25, 2013
  • Grades: 3–5

I invite students to keep track of the places their reading takes them. Early in the year, my reading workshop mini-lessons encourage students to celebrate and share their reading with each other. We talk often about how reading can take you into a whole new world of fantasy, heightened reality, and, in this case, to exciting geographic locations. As students read, they will often discover that specific places in the United States (cities, towns, states, landmarks, etc.) are mentioned—and even brought to life—in the text.

Because of this, I post a large, detailed map of the United States on a bulletin board near my classroom library. Next to the map I post a map key with each student’s name represented by a different color or style of push pin. The students place push pins on the map throughout the year to indicate their reading travels throughout the year. Every time a student reads the name of a city, state, or famous landmark in their book, they pinpoint the geographic location on the map with their designated push pin.

Below the map is an organizer with plastic drawers. Each student has his or her own drawer filled with push pins of their designated color or style. It’s so fun to see how many places students have “visited” by the end of the school year!

On certain days, I will take time at the beginning of Reading Workshop to invite a few students to share a specific book and tell the class what exciting places the book contains. This strengthens our reading community and adds a certain measure of suspense to the reading of books from our classroom library.

Comments (4)

LOVE this idea, but how/where did you find 28 different colors of push pins?

Hi Beth, I was wondering where you found the great map? I want to put this on my bulletin board as well but I can't seem to find a large bulletin board sized map. Any input would be appreciated. Deb

Great idea, I will definitely use it this Sept.

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