Engage Children with Maps

Most educational research indicates that children learn best when they are fully engaged with the material. Reading a book or listening to a lecture can be effective if the child already has an interest in the subject matter. Getting them to interact physically, mentally, and emotionally is a much better tactic. This can be easily seen by looking at how kids interact with maps.

A World Wall Map may provide a good perspective on the size and scope of the planet, but most kids will treat it as decoration or something to gaze at. Ask them questions about the map in order to get them interested. Making a game out of who gets the most answers or who can locate something fastest is a good way to start. Letting the kids mark up the map with notations of places they’ve studied or places they’d like to visit can also make it more meaningful to them.

Another option is to let them build their own games. Kids are amazingly creative and can make up not just games, but entire stories based on very little. Sit them down in front of a Hawaii Wall Map and they are likely to spin tales about pirates and natives or they may come up with surprising information about the history and culture of the islands. They may even decide to cut the map into pieces to create their own giant puzzle. This sort of creativity should be encouraged as it will help them learn faster and retain information longer.

2 thoughts on “Engage Children with Maps

  1. We have several maps in our hallway. One of our maps is our town, Peoria, IL. I ask my oldest questions like, “What’s the best way to get from our house to the newer mall?” or “What are the main streets/highways throughout our city?” Our youngest enjoys finding the dots or placing new ones on places of interest (to us). We have found our schools, favorite restaurants, and where friends and family live. It is typical if we find a new place or something different, the kids will want to find it on the map.
    Recently, I was having to go from one side of town to the other (rare that it happened that way) and I found myself stuck in construction and detours. I called my son to ask what roads are connected/available and what looked like the quickest route. Part of it was I needed help but most of it was the idea of him having the experience (Isn’t that called application), being a part of problem solving, enjoying the feeling of completing the task and helping, and generally, what the experience could do for him….empowering him, relying on him, allowing him to be a part of the answer. Typically, it’s less likely to find times when he can apply adult like skills but I try to take advantage of them when they come up.

  2. This is a good way to get children more interested in geography. Most kids today would really treat maps as mere decorations and are not really good with it. This are good ways to let them have fun while learning. Great tips!

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