Thursday, May 10, 2012

Introduction to Maps

Yesterday we used sand and water to make various natural formations.  Today I wanted to show the girls that we can use symbols to represent some of these land and water forms.  I drew some examples of symbols and invited L and E (33 months) to try to copy them or to make up their own...

They definitely understood the concept.. E later pointed to my paper and explained to her Dad that the river is represented by two wavy lines.  They enjoyed making their own circles, zig-zags, waves, and even made up a symbol for forest (lots of straight lines).  Here is L's drawing of a lake (a surprisingly good circle considering she's still hasn't quite gotten the pencil grip correct):

E's version of the ocean was more realism than symbolism, and even came with its own fish:

Then we made some 'maps' by tracing different shapes:

I put my shapes into a certain order and then talked to myself, describing how I was creating a map of the shapes and making sure I was using words to describe the relative position of the objects ('to the right of', 'above', etc..).  They followed my lead and made their own maps with more tracing.

Then I invited them to recreate the arrangement described by my maps:

I deliberately made the objects on my map smaller than the real objects to show them that they were just representing the juxtaposition of the actual objects.  This was tricky for them to grasp, so we'll continue working on this skill.  I think next time I will give them a box to work in and a way to identify the corners on both the box and map so they can then make the spatial correlation better when they place their objects.

They did much better with a single row of objects.  First they tried to put the objects on top of the map:

This inclination makes a lot of sense since their shape puzzles and outline matching activities require them to put the shapes on top of their corresponding outlines.  After I demonstrated that they can put the objects next to their corresponding symbols, they caught on quickly:

I really enjoy finding activities that the girls get engaged in, but that also provide enough challenge for them.  We're going to continue working on our mapping skills, since there is lots of room from improvement before the girls really grasp these concepts.  There are so many fun things we can map from household objects to doll furniture, to our own house, and exciting treasure hunts we can go on.  I'll post about our future geography lessons as we complete them.

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