Edventures with Kids

Kids Activities, Family Travel & Fun Ways to Learn

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.


Map Your Summer Reading

Maps for Kids & Summer Reading

Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links for your convenience.

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:


Map Your Summer Reading

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.


Map Fun for Kids

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.


What fun geography activities do you do with the kids?


Jodie Saturday, 22 June 2013 · Edit Reply

Love, love these ideas for incorporating books with map skills. What a great idea. Pinned!

Barbara Mojica Tuesday, 25 June 2013 · Edit Reply

Great ideas! Geography is often a forgotten subject in the schools today.

Rebecca "Franticmommy" Thursday, 27 June 2013 · Edit Reply

Love this! We are ready the Percy Jackson series right now and I think that is a great idea to break out the map and show where New York, Las Vegas, San Fransico, and all the other places Percy ends up. Great way to combine reading and learning.

Crystal Saturday, 29 June 2013 · Edit Reply

We love maps! This week we are learning where India is. Yesterday we found someone to send us a postcard from there and coincidentally today we watched a bit of a Bollywood movie being filmed in our Northern Ireland village, had a chat with a crew member from the Carribean, and even met one of the actors. Not bad for a no-school day! I'll be featuring your post on Mom's Library next week. Have a great weekend!

Crystal Sunday, 30 June 2013 · Edit Reply

What a fun way to make geography relevant to children! I'll be featuring you this week on Mom's Library atwww.crystalstinytreasures.com
Have a great summer of reading!

iGameMom Tuesday, 02 July 2013 · Edit Reply

These are great ideas. We will have to try. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library. I am featuring it on iGameMom.

Rebecca Friday, 09 August 2013 · Edit Reply

I love this activity - what a great way to build in Geography! I'd never have thought of it!

Just popping by to let you know I featured this on The Sunday Showcase last week http://www.herecomethegirlsblog.com/2013/08/03/summer-learning-the-sunday-showcase.html

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Guest Thursday, 21 August 2014

About the author

Jacquie Fisher

Jacquie is the founder & owner of Edventures with Kids, a site that shares unique kid’s activities, fun ways to learn and inspriation for family travel.  She is an educator, nature lover and mom to 2 great kids.  Jacquie enjoys exploring new places with her family and loves encouraging kids to be creative & curious!  Visit our About Us section for more information about Jacquie & Edventures with Kids!






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