My niece teaches Kindergarteners. She causally mentioned she wanted to spend this week sharing maps with them. My ears tuned in closer. I love maps. I can’t throw one away, even when we update our travel atlas. I told her I had several she could use.
Then I told her about a bulletin board I’d seen while working at a school this spring. The teacher posted a photo of an interesting place in the United States, then had students research to discover what it was and the distance from them. These students were intermediate age and seemed to enjoy the hunt.
When I got home, I looked for a book by David Sobel, Mapmaking With Children. I didn’t have the book years ago when I attempted to teach 3rd graders map skills. When I encountered this book I knew it would have been extremely useful. So many children are not developmentally ready to apply necessary skills to understand how to read a map. This book brings the skill to their level, first using blocks to construct objects in the classroom and then encourages them to play with the model. They locate their desks, add other objects, or look for missing or misplaced objects. Then the classroom is drawn on paper and students are asked to find a hidden penny. Eventually students age 5 to 6 can create their own maps to show where they sit or where they hid a penny.
I texted her about the book, she said she wanted to read it so I quickly took it and the maps to her classroom. It was all I could do not to offer to teach map skills to her students, proving you can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take away the desire to teach.
A side note that brought back a flood of memories: I thumbed through the travel atlas from 2005 and found a hand drawn map. We had planned a driving trip out west and my father-in-law, formerly a long haul truck driver meticulously drew the route and included stops along the way. Here is the first leg of our journey.