Saturday 12 January 2013

Get creative with Maps

 Whatever you do, don't throw away maps - they can be a marvelous resource with young children. The pictures here show how a map of a zoo can be used to great effect when using small animal figures. This set of animals was a mini vet set, so there were feeding bottles, mini wash-sponges, buckets, vets/zookeepers and medicines to support the small world play. (The book Polar Bear Polar Bear had stimulated this play). The maps were big enough for two children to play together and they were small enough for me to take a whole bunch of them home with me (some zoo maps can be downloaded from the internet)

Tourist maps of cities and any other kind of map can be great fun too - especially if the children are allowed to draw on them and turn them into treasure maps. Michael once drew all sort of monsters inhabiting the sea as well as pirate ships. The route to the treasure was clearly marked on the map as well as other obstacles. Not forgetting where the treasure is located!

Of course maps of your own home town and locating your own house and your route home to preschool or the park etc is exciting and children can get very proud of a small spot on the map representing their home. Taking photographs of homes, and parks and other local sights and adding them to the map with arrows makes it easier for the children to not just see the map, but to be able to see where they live represented in 2D.

Recently I have been looking at maps of the world with the children as we have been collaborating with preschool children in USA and Australia - how far away are they? And how different the streets look on the maps... that not all towns look alike. When asking children "What is a town?" sometimes some very interesting answers are given, but also the names of specific buildings to their own town are given to explain ALL towns...

Floor plans of the setting can be used for the children to make treasure maps at the preschool - and for then for friends to follow the map and find the "treasure" - this can be done in the garden/yard as well.

The fantasy can really flow and whole treasure islands can be drawn and the stories behind how the treasure got to be left there devised - and magically the preschool always seems to get transformed into the island and role play treasure hunting starts...

masking tape on the floor can create stepping stones over crocodile infested creeks, hanging red material between the gap of two shelving units can create a lava flow to creep through, placing stuffed animals in a room can inspire the children to tip toe quietly so the lions and tigers don't wake up and attack... rolling up a mat can create a log over a deep gorge ... etc etc

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