Exploring Maps

Map reading is an important skill that supports your child’s developing sense of direction and spatial awareness. It also improves your child’s visual literacy. Through maps, there are many ways to see what our Earth looks like. A globe is a round map that shows the entire planet, but a smaller map can show the roads and waterways of a specific area. Interactive maps provide even more flexibility to zoom in to a specific address or location. Try these map reading activities at home.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Let your child explore old maps or maps you print off the internet. Encourage him to follow along a road with his finger. Then allow him to color on the map. See if he can trace a path with his crayon.
  • Three-year-olds—If you have access to a mapping application on your phone, tablet, or computer, show your child a map of where you live. Together, explore the nearby roads, highways, landmarks, and geographical features (lakes, rivers, oceans, and mountains). How do those features look different on a map than in real life? Consider going on a walk and watch your progress on the map app.
  • Four/Five-year-olds—Complete the map activity above and extend it by typing in your home address and the school address to plot a path to get to school. Is it the route you normally take or do you go a different way? What familiar places are along the route (i.e., the grocery store, library, etc.)? Encourage your child to draw their own map from home to school, including those key features along the way. Don’t forget to bring it into school to share with the class once you return!

Skills Supported: spatial awareness, directionality, visual literacy, map reading, global awareness, technology understanding and usage, fine motor skills (drawing)