Today, we are learning about maps and the process of mapping. We are currently reading National Geographic Kids Beginner’s World Atlas which is the next level reading after the National Geographic Our World: A Child’s First Picture Atlas ~ the atlas you would start reading with your child at around two-and-a-half years.
A map is a drawing of a place as it looks from above. If you were a bird flying directly overhead, you would see only the tops of things. A map looks at places from a bird’s-eye view and utilizes drawings called symbols to show things that do not move. Thus, the map is flat, and it is smaller than the place shows. A map can help you find where you are and where you want to go.
A compass helps you travel in the right direction. It tells you where north (N), south (S), east (E), and west (W) are on your map. Sometimes it only shows where the north is. A map key helps you understand the symbols used by the map-makers to show things like houses or water on the map.
We are using Montessori Globe as a reference to trace continents on our balloon globe model.
From your backyard, Earth probably looks flat, however, astronauts see that Earth appears like a giant ball with blue oceans, greenish brown land, and white clouds.
Offer your child to trace land, mountains, rivers, etc. Sharpies work best for this.
Even in space, you see only the part of Earth facing you. To see the whole Earth at one time, we need a map. Maps take the round Earth and make it flat so that both hemispheres could be seen at one time.
By popping a balloon and stretching it, a child will get an idea how maps are made.
If you could “peel” a globe like an orange, you would make the Earth flat, but there would be spaces between places.
Cartographers (map-makers) stretch the land and the water at the top and bottom to fill in the spaces. This is how a map lets you see the whole world all at once.
A cartographer is a person who makes a map, which is a picture that tells a story for example about physical characteristics of our planet Earth or about the weather or natural hazards ☔️🌪🌨 or about where to find places or things and how to go from one place to another. Maps can make a large place look small.
Maps were not always this complicated and advanced. Maps were first drawn with a stick in the dirt and then on cave walls. Later maps were made of clay, silk, parchment, and eventually of paper as we know them now. First map symbols were very simple and child-like ( a wave-like line would represent water). Symbols were used to indicate specific things like ⛰mountains, 👥population, 🏞rivers, and lakes, etc.
I illustrated to Adrian what primitive people might have used as symbols to create a map, and asked him to draw a primitive map, just like a cartographer would do. For this activity, you would need:
- a container, a tray or a large cookie or baking sheet;
- and either sand (white or colored), cornmeal, or we are using wheat flour;
- I lined the bottom of the tray (we are using a floor-table) with an orange colored cardstock paper to add a pop of color to his map drawing.
Adrian is mapping a 🌙 moon, a 🌲tree, 🏞water, 🏔mountains and a house ( t-pee ).
And, of course, there is a lot of sensory exploration!
Point of interest: how the sand/cornmeal/wheat flour feels (sensorial tactile exploration). Also, how the drawing stays in the “sand” tray after it has been traced.
The goal of this lesson: hand-eye coordination, concentration, ability to trace symbols, fine-motor development.
Language: cartographer, names of symbols, a map.
Furthermore, while reading another atlas book, National Geographic Kids United States Atlas (buy here), we learned that the maps’ symbols can stand for physical, political, economic, environmental features and more. For example, above, the economy symbols like a “sheep” and “dairy cows/products” describe which region’s economy produces most of this particular commodity.
A political map shows countries and often capitals of a particular area.
I hope you enjoyed our Geography lesson on Mapping. For prior lessons, please see links below: