Map Your Neighborhood!
In honor of Geography Awareness Week, we’re putting on our mapmaking hats and charting a course to adventure. Not only will kids learn about geography, but they’ll get to practice some great spatial thinking in the process.
Step 1: Make a Map
Help your kids sketch a map of their neighborhood from memory. The map can include trees, sidewalks and paths, buildings, structures such as bridges, and other landmarks.
Explain that a map key has symbols to represent these features, and ask your kids to create a key for their map. Next they’ll decide what pictures they will use for their symbols. Discuss the reasoning behind any unusual choices!
Draw a route on the map with your home as the beginning and ending point. Now put an X on a spot in the neighborhood that you know your kids have represented correctly.
Step 2: Take Along Trinkets
Now that you’ve made your map, prepare to set out on an adventure walk in your neighborhood. Secretly tuck some geography-related surprises, such as toy compasses or globe keychains, into your pocket or bag.
Step 3: Set Out on Your Route
Attach the map to a clipboard or other hard surface, grab a few pencils, and head outside. Ask your kids to navigate you to the X. As you walk, ask them to call out any differences they see between the homemade map and their surroundings. Stop to make any necessary changes to the map as you go.
As a reward, distribute the small treasures you’ve brought along once your newbie mapmakers have successfully led you to the spot marked by the X.
Step 4: Map
When you’re back home again, tap into more map awareness with these questions:
- Why do you think maps have keys with symbols?
- Do you think maps of places always stay the same?
- Why are maps useful?