Charles is obsessed with maps! Nothing is cooler than a map. He draws them for EVERYTHING and if we go somewhere that provides a location map, he must be “in charge” of it, which seldom leaves his stubborn hands. Whether a map is of a zoo, a city, a country, or of the stars and planets, the same basic knowledge is required to understand the information it contains: scale, orientation, angles, and measurement. As a teacher, I like maps because they combine reading and math skills and helps build spatial sense and visual literacy.
Traveling is the perfect time to practice reading maps with your child. To start, simply begin by using maps along your journey and point out different parts of the map, such as the map key or map legend, scale, and compass rose (teach your child the mnemonic to remember the cardinal directions, such as “Never Eat Soggy Waffles” or my fav “Never Eat Shredded Wheat.”). Locate a map of the world or a globe and point out where home is juxtaposed to where you are traveling. Explain that a map can show continents, countries, states, and cities or show the roads and landmarks of a town.
Map Scavenger Hunt
Want to teach your child map skills this summer while traveling? Start with a Map Scavenger Hunt! This activity introduces the ideas of following direction and relating to a two-dimensional representation of a landscape. Ages 3-7
Supplies needed: a location for the hunt, paper, and a list of commonly used map symbols.
1.) Find a safe course for a hunt, such as a playground or your hotel. (We even did one in a corn field!)
Map Scavenger Hunt in the Corn Field
2.) Cut out slips of paper with basic map symbols on the front and it’s definition on the back (such as a park, road, railroad, campground, body of water, subway, capital, etc.). I put the slips of papers in envelopes with an X on the front and hide them on the course.
3.) Create a handmade map of the course indicating the location of these hidden slips of paper with an X. Be sure to include enough reference points like trees, rocks, and playground equipment or stairs, doors, flowers, and elevators.
4.) Discuss the map with your child to eliminate any areas of confusion, and let the hunt for the ‘treasures’ begin!
5.) After the hunt, make sure all of the symbols (treasures) were found. What do the map symbols mean? Where can you find a map legend or key? What makes a good map? What should a map convey? Are all maps meant for the same purpose? How might the map have been different if you were driving cars or flying planes instead of walking around?
6.) (optional) Have your child create their own map scavenger hunt. Did it work? What was the most difficult part of creating your own map? How would you design your map differently?
This summer, remember that teachable moments are always around when you are traveling with your child. Learning can always be lots of fun!
Charles' House Map with Hidden Treasure
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