We're having some fun with maps this summer! I love using maps as a learning tool with the kids. Maps help teach geography, directions, reading skills and so much more.
Previously, I shared Why Every Home Needs a Map - 7 Fun Ways to Introduce Kids to Geography. Today I want to expand on one of those ideas by sharing how you and the kids can connect geography with your summer reading.
Maps for Kids & Summer Reading
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First, you'll need a few things for this project:
- A map! You can either use a world map or one of the states depending on which books you might read this summer. We use a world map because we never know what location might be mentioned in a book.
- Books - any books will do! I explain how to use them below. And if you're interested in what we're reading this summer, visit our summer bucket reading list.
- Post-it Arrow Flags - the smaller sticky note tags work well since you can place a few of them close together and still see other locations on the map.
Maps can be found at bookstores, educational supply stores and online. Here's a few examples of wall maps from Amazon that are kid-friendly (notice the nice colors which helps to define the country boundaries). I would highly suggest getting a laminated map or having yours laminated at a local copy shop.
Mapping your books is really easy and the activity is fun for kids from preschool through high school. There are a few ways you can tag your book on the map:
1. Tag the Book's Setting or Location
As you read a book, see if a location (city, state or country) is mentioned in the text. Once you know the location, write it on one of the Post-it tags and help your child find the location on the map.
This is a great reading comprehension activity for kids when parents are reading aloud. For independent readers, ask your child to find where the story takes place as they read the book. You may also help them find the location in the book as you begin as they may not recognize the name of a city or country if they have not heard it prior to the book.
For a book that doesn't have a setting or specific location, try tagging the geographic area on the map. For example, if you're reading a book about ocean animals but it doesn't name an ocean, have your child locate and chose an ocean for the book tag. You can teach kids a few things by tagging a general location: they will understand that there is more than one ocean in the world and they can also learn which is the closest ocean to their home.
2. Follow a Chacter's Travels
If you're child enjoys reading a book series or you happen to be reading a book in which the character is traveling, use the map to track where they go!
For example, in the Madeline books, she lives in Paris but travels to Rome, the United States, London and other fun locations. As you read the series, find each location on your map.
You can also map the travels that take place in one book. An excellent book to try this with is Paddle-to-the-Sea. The book shares the travels of a hand-carved canoe that was put afloat in Lake Superior and travels through all the great lakes and out to the Atlantic Ocean.
My daughter and I are currently reading Nature Girl which tells the story of a young girl who hikes the Appalachian Trail, an actual trail that runs from Maine to Georgia. So as we read, we are looking at the map each time the story mentions a location along the trail.
3. Connecting Stories
At the end of the summer, look at your map to see which books took place in locations that are in close proximity to one another. Talk about whether or not the stories had any similarities. Could the characters have met one another? Might they have visited the same museum or park? Did the books refer to any of the same landmarks? Kids can get really creative with their thought process during this exercise.
What Kids are Learning about Maps & Locations
As you begin to fill up your map, you'll notice a few really cool things:
- Your child will begin to identify the names of cities and countries. They may be able to refer to previously mapped locations when tagging a new location.
- As you place the book names on the map, use the compass rose and cardinal directions (North, South, East, West) to describe the locations. If you explain that Spain is East of Greece or that Florida is located South of Georgia, your child will begin to pick up on these map terms and understand their meanings.
- Kids will begin to make observations about the settings of new books - both ones they've read or books you read aloud. They may even stop you during a book and ask you where the story takes places. For example, my daughter was so excited to tell me that Claudia in From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was visiting the same city where Percy Jackson (from The Lightning Thief ) also lived.