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Discussion: Map reading for very young kids

in: Orienteering; General;

Apr 5, 2016 9:27 PM # 
My wife teaches pre-k/k (ages 3-6 roughly) and is looking for some map-based games she can use to teach some basic map-reading to kids in these age groups. The trick here is that some cannot recognize letters or numbers reliably. She's using shapes and/or colored streamers currently but I thought someone might have some better ideas for this.
Apr 5, 2016 11:53 PM # 
I use animal shapes for children who don't go to school yet or for the first 6 months of school. Then i switch to modified Orienteering symbols - the kids even at 5-6 "get" them after being introduced in game play - much faster than adults.
The beauty of O symbols (modified) is that it supports the approach i use initially that Orienteering like like being a spy and we know spies use codes and this is the code - only clever orienteers know the codes. I don't use English/language in any of my school programs because of literacy issues. Codes/animal shapes etc are great. I guess I'd stretch to 1 letter "symbols" but it would be last resort.
Apr 7, 2016 12:42 PM # 
Put 3-6 objects on the table (eg cones or blocks). With the kids watching, draw a simple map of the objects. Turn the map to a different orientation, and have them "fix" it by correctly orienting it.

Make two maps, one with correct spatial relationships, and one that is incorrect. Can they identify the correct map?

Make a map, and have them arrange the objects to match.

Have them close their eyes, and put a marker (eg poker chip or piece of colored paper) under one of the objects. They open their eyes. You point to the object on the map. A kid is selected to pick the object in real life. Pick it up - voila! there is the marker! Take turns.

Expand... Spread the objects out but maintain the same spatial relationships. Repeat the marker exercise. Expand further, so much that the objects are now on the floor, much more widely spread out. Repeat marker exercise.

Now move the kids around using the map. Point to one of the objects on the map. A kid goes and stands next to the object in real life. Point to another object on the map. The kid goes over to that one.

Point to a place on the map that is between objects, instead of at an object. Can they figure out where to stand?

Draw a 3-object course on the map, see if they can do them in order. Add start and finish.

Include some fixed objects in the maps. Work up toward orienteering symbols.

These are games they will probably enjoy returning to over and over, and each time you can push it a little further. You can dwell on each step until they "get it" and feel confident. Listen to them and riff on what they say. Maybe they will want to draw some maps. They like drawing. They like stories. Make up stories that include a map or are built on their maps. Listen to their stories. Take turns adding elements to the story.

I think I've just designed my spring JK-K class! Yay! Thanks!

Erin Schirm has a lot of good ideas for games with younger kids to develop spatial awareness and orienteering skills at an age-appropriate level.

It would be cool if we could get epunching printouts that were bars with lengths proportional to the time taken. (for pre-readers)
Apr 7, 2016 1:56 PM # 
If you, or someone you know, has artistic talent, you could try a 3-D representation of an area and let that be your map
Apr 7, 2016 6:42 PM # 
What Barb said....

But people that are paying attention to the good ideas on youth development in the US already know that she and Erin are the source of those good ideas. the more clubs adopt their ideas on how to grow our sport with youth the brighter the future of our sport will be.
Apr 7, 2016 7:50 PM # 
Great ideas, Barb! I can think of two kids who are about to have a rainy day project...
Apr 7, 2016 8:27 PM # 
What Barb said for games

In terms of a kid proving they were where they said, for pre-K I use two ways.
1. E-punches with old laminated memory cards fastened by velcro to the e-punch instead of the number, and the same pictures in sequence on the kids' map, kind of like the pictures on the O-Ringen Miniknat maps.
2. When not using e-punches, I use mini-animal or faces or object stamps that can easily be bought on e-bay or wherever, and "freshened up" with ink for stamp pads

Picture legend - for the simple things that could be on a map I have a piece of paper with a frame in the center and around the frame pictures of objects like tree, boulder, fence, light pole, building, bench, paved path, etc., whatever exists in the area I use. Within the frame are the symbols for the objects. Then I paste pieces of paper with the symbols on several of the correct objects in the area. I then do (learned from Erin) a warm up run (warming up body, eyes and brain) around the area where the pieces of paper are. Next they get the Legend sheet and on an example I show them how to associate an object with a symbol and then draw a line from the object to the symbol.

After that I use a card game with pictures and symbols just discovered as a relay game, idea from Mary-Jo's coaches manual, I think
Apr 7, 2016 8:37 PM # 
Half-a-potato hills, sliced and edges marked with markers, as contours, though for older elementary kids. And green peppers have re-entrants.
Apr 7, 2016 8:53 PM # 
Thanks, Joey Scouts, <8, have some activities now.
Apr 8, 2016 6:44 AM # 
Have them close their eyes, and put a marker (eg poker chip or piece of colored paper) under one of the objects... Pick it up - voila! there is the marker!

Gamble responsibly.
Apr 8, 2016 6:57 AM # 
jennycas: is run by a friend of mine in Melbourne; she has some great ideas for pre-schoolers.
Apr 8, 2016 4:48 PM # 
omg, so cute! (photo of kid on merry maps' website)
This is a great website; I like the focus on very young children, and there are some good ideas in there. Also some nice pricing guidance for people who want to make this work sustainably - i.e., be able to pay salaries and costs.

Also, there is this paper saying that very young children can read maps.
Apr 8, 2016 8:58 PM # 
Thanks for all the great ideas so far. Good to see there's lots of people working with this out there.
Apr 14, 2016 7:20 PM # 
As a father of an almost-two-year-old, I love all these ideas. When we were trapped inside this winter, I went on a similar hunt from some O-related, kids books about maps and found a few great list:

Two of our daughter's favorites have been:

  • Big Bug - "Size is a matter of relativity in this deceptively simple, striking picture book. The opening spread features a ladybug so large it doesn’t quite fit on the two pages. On the next page, we see the ladybug is now small in relation to the big leaf on which it sits.  Every turn of the page continues to zoom out to show that what was large is now small in comparison to a newly introduced object."
  • You Are Not Small - "Who is small and who is big? That depends on whom you ask. With simple, sparse text and bold, clean illustrations, this amusing book about size comparison also offers a clever introduction to perspective-taking."

Not only does she love reading them, but it feels like map reading practice for me.
Apr 14, 2016 7:21 PM # 
…it's worth noting, I've been able to get most of them through our local library.

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