X Marks the Spot
Starting with a map of a room at school or in the home, preschoolers are introduced to map legends, following step-by-step map directions, and more. This activity includes other academic activities as well, such as counting, learning compass directions, and mastering the difference between left and right.
Animals call different places home, and learning about where animals live is an excellent way to practice using maps. Maps for this exercise can be maps of the local zoo, the layout of a farm, or even using a globe to locate exotic animals from all over the world.
Where I Come From
Maps become more personal when the children can associate their map with themselves. This type of map may be the layout of their room, their house, or even their neighborhood. Drawing a map of the school playground lets children combine mapping skills with activities they are familiar with, and shows them how a map can be used to show someone else where an item can be located.
It may take a little practice to learn to draw a map that is legible to other people. This is not a big deal at first, but there are ways to make it easier for kids to grasp. Two ways to simplify mapmaking for a preschooler are to use legos instead of drawing or to draw on graphing paper where each step equals one square on the page.
Once your preschooler begins to understand how maps work, they will be able to incorporate map skills into other activities. A map-based scavenger hunt, for example, or hiding “treasures” for other kids to find by following the maps they draw.