Maps teach kids to understand and navigate the world around them. Maps strengthen critical thinking skills, teaching kids to observe, analyse, interpret and remember their environment and the objects within it. In addition, a colourful and fun map is one way to get kids physically active while learning new skills. With a few supplies and optional mapping software, you can create your own map for kids that is both entertaining and educational.
Determine whether the kids can read. Some kids may be able to read street signs and building names, while others can only recognise picture objects such as cars, playgrounds and houses. Use both images and words if you are creating a map for mixed skill levels.
Draw your map by hand, or use the art tools in Microsoft Word. Use clip-art images of objects with which children are familiar.
Incorporate arrows and dashed lines to indicate directions and paths. Use solid bold lines to represent walkways and streets. Give the kids clues by adding landmarks such as trees, bodies of water and mailboxes.
Use rewards. Mark on the map where you have hidden surprises or treats. For instance, if you want to help a 5-year-old child find a neighbour's house, put an image of a cupcake on the map where the house is located. When the child finds the house, have neighbour to give him the treat or leave it on the front porch.
Draw the map by hand or use a computer. For advance maps, explore Google Maps to assist you in mapping out your neighbourhood or a specific location.
Add addresses and street names to the map to teach kids how houses and buildings are numbered. Explain how one side of the street uses odd-numbered addresses and the other uses even numbers.
Place traffic signs and north and south clues on your map.
Send the kids out in groups and let them find their way around using the map. Follow behind closely, but only intervene when they become confused. Have the kids use a compass or GPS device when they find themselves lost.
If you don't have the time to create your own map by hand, you can download templates online and adjust them to your needs. With older kids, use your map as a teaching tool. Tell the kids about the history of maps in discovering new countries, or talk about a career as a cartographer.
Never send kids out alone or after dark to use the map.