Lately, some of the most common questions in our house are "Mom, do you know where this country is?" or "I heard about this place on the news/in school, where is it?"
And with the Olympic Games this summer, I imagine that we'll have a lot more of these geographic questions.
My response "Let's find it on the map."
A map, globe or atlas is one of those great items that almost everyone refers to but few people think, 'Oh, let's buy a map for the house'. So, to encourage you to get a map for your kids, here are 7 easy ways to use a map or globe in your home:
1. Maps and Globes Help Us Keep Perspective
They help kids to see the big picture of the world and how our city, state or country is just a small piece of a larger planet. There's a wonderful book titled Me on the Map (Dragonfly Books) where a child shows a map of her room, and then a map of her room in her house -- it continues to show the locations of her town, state, country so the reader is able to get an idea of where they might be 'on the map'.
2. Locate Where Relatives are Living
Use pictures of family members and post them close to the city/state/country where they reside. Kids will begin to appreciate just how far people travel to see them. And for military families, kids will have a better idea of where their loved ones are stationed.
3. Track Your Family Vacations
It's always fun to see how far away you'll be from home. Put a small dot or tack on all the places you visit and by the time your kids are teenagers, they'll have a great visual of how 'worldly' they've become!
4. Learn Geography by Reading
Locate places on the map that kids are currently reading about it books. My daughter and I are reading "Pippi", so finding Sweden on the map is a must. It also helps kids begin to learn about real locations and fantasy places - even fiction books mention real-life places.
If you like the idea of connecting books to geographic locations, you'll love the Booking Across the USA series -- 50 states, 50 kids books, 50 activities!
5. Connect the Dots with Current Events
There are so many places that kids hear about in school, on the news, and during conversations at the dinner table. Whether it's a tsumani in Japan, finding countries that are conserving rainforests, or learning where US troops are being deployed - maps help us to add context to the news. There were 205 countries competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics - challenge your kids to locate them all on the map!
6. Maps Help Kids Dream
When you learn about other places and cultures, kids begin to think about what it would be like to live or visit other locations. My son is already planning to retire in Fiji! Another wonderful book about maps is The Once Upon a Time Map Book: Take a Tour of Six Enchanted Lands. Children will enjoy exploring maps that show the worlds of Peter Pan's Neverland, Alice's travels through Wonderland, Dorothy's visit to Oz and more fun places from famous books!
7. They Teach Us about Animals & Nature
Take the story we shared about the snowy owls visiting our region this winter - a map helped us to show kids the natural habitats of animals, migration patterns and explain which animals are native to an area and why. Other fun migrations to follow on the map include monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. Maps will help you explain why your kids probably won't see a moose in your backyard, but how they may see an arctic owl or a fox.
Don't sweat it if you don't have an up-to-the-minute map of everything. Our world is ever changing.
But having a physical item (globe or map) that kids can label, touch and interact with is a great learning opportunity in so many ways.
Not sure where to find a map? Try some of these:
Try this version if you'd like a wall map that you can use post-its or label with dry erase markers.
An atlas is always a great option if you don't have the wall space for a map.
For a fun & inexpensive option, try a placemat for the table. If you can find it, get one that has a world map on one side, and a map of the U.S. on the opposite side.
If you're looking for a globe, try this cool option! This huggable, soft globe can be used as a pillow or a map :-) Kids will love interacting with it!
Enjoy your "travels" ~ Jacquie