Reading a map is a great lifelong skill for everyone to have for multiple reasons. May 25-31 is Map Reading Week and in this article we explore the benefits of knowing how to read a map. Being able to read a map is a fundamental life skill and the basis of all outdoor activities. In the age of GPS and Google Maps we want to show how it is still important to know how to look at and read a physical map and not rely on our phone or car navigation guidance.
Why use a map?
Reading maps require us to interpret the geographic information portrayed on the map. We derive important information from the map such as direction, distance, natural and man-made features and topographical features which helps us to understand and acknowledge our surroundings as well. Maps integrate aspects of the physical world and have you reads signs, notice landmarks or topography to know where you are.
Reading and drawing maps helps children build spatial reasoning skills and helps them make sense of their world. Spacial skills allow children to build a mental picture of where they are in the world and how physical locations and objects relate to one another.
Sometimes computer guided navigation can be wrong especially if your destination is very new. Knowing how to read a map and having a good understanding of your surroundings can help you get out of GPS errors.
Let’s Help Children Learn How to Read Maps with Hands-On Activities
~Plan a day trip using a map with your kids. Pick a location you would like to travel to and look at the map together before you leave. Look at the map together and show the kids where you are currently on the map and where you are going. Are you driving East, West, North or South? How long should it take? Will you be driving near any lakes or mountains? Maybe you will need a change of clothes for where you are traveling to if there is a climate change.
~Draw a Map together with your kids. Use crayons or markers and draw maps of places you both know well. Start with s0mething simple such as your house an it’s rooms then continue drawing to your friend’s house in the neighborhood. Shapes can be used to label objects like furniture. Encourage the kids to use their imagination and draw maps of their favorite book.
~Treasure Map Game. Hide special objects in a room and point to its location on the map you and the kids made together. Help with clues such as “It’s in the closet.”
Kids and adults can have fun together drawing and reading maps. It is not only fun but educational!
I look at a map and am usually almost immediately pretty lost. My husband will get frustrated with me and ask for the map. Maybe if I had better spatial reasoning or had learned these skills as a child I would be able to look at a map as an adult and be able to guide us to our destination!
Resource: https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/why-children-still-need-to-read-and-draw-maps All opinions are my own.