Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Intro to Geography - Maps

After our introduction to geography and landforms, we started an exploration of maps. M is already familiar with maps. She has a US map that she loves to play with and locate where members of our family live, we talk about maps and navigation systems when we find directions to go new places, and maps are used on several of her favorite TV shows, like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

I got a few books from the library about maps. Our main set of activities was inspired by the book "Me on the Map." In the book, a young girl creates maps of her room, house, street... all the way out to the whole Earth. We read the book at bedtime a few nights before attempting the activities so she would be familiar with the story.

We made something similar during our Space Unit to show M her place in the universe. We looked through this "Where Do I Live?" book, reviewed some maps of different places in our community (trail map for a local park, campus map for a local college, map of the local science center buildings, and an exhibit map from the children's museum).

After reading the book again, we took some paper and a marker up to M's room and she helped me draw a map of her bedroom. She pointed out all of the pieces of furniture and I drew them on the map. Then she went back around the room and pointed out where she was standing on the map.

We went back downstairs and she helped me draw a map of our house. She started to lose interest at this point, so we stopped there.

On another day, we talked about larger maps - like our country and the world. M got a really neat interactive globe for Christmas (I bought it from Costco, but it can also be found here - Smart Globe). We talked about how the Earth is really a sphere, but it's not very convenient to carry around a spherical globe. I took a grape (any round food would work) and cut it in half to show her how a globe can be represented as a flat map. We looked at several different maps in one of her library books and talked about how maps are flat representations of portions of the world.

The next morning I put out a basket with these Around the World Finger Puppets and the box of Around The World Flash Cards that I bought on Amazon. The flash cards are so cute! The front of each card has adorable illustrations depicting the flag, a person, and landmarks/cultural items from the given country. The back of the card has a world map with a star showing the location of the country. M tried to match the finger puppets to the cards (pretty successfully, in my opinion!), then used the maps on the backs of the cards to locate where on the globe her new finger puppet friends lived. It was so neat to see her pull it all together!

She spent the rest of the morning playing with the finger puppets. There were 6 pairs of puppets, so she played matching games, made a house for them, and put them to sleep in their basket.

Here are a few other cultural activities we did throughout the week:

Water Color Paintings 
M chose two pages to paint from this National Parks Coloring Book - a coral reef at Biscayne National Park in Florida, and a mountain scene from the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in NC/TN. We had a long conversation about different types of habitats while she painted. My husband and I actually snorkled at Biscayne National Park this past September, so I told her about the fish (and shark!) we saw while we were there.

Cosmic Kids Yoga
These videos are great! We did this "Squish the Fish" episode where we rode in a hot air balloon to the beach to explore a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean.

Blueprints and Construction Sites
My husband works as a Project Manager for a commercial construction company, so we are fortunate to be able to follow the progress of a new cancer center his company is building. M has visited the jobsite on multiple occasions, but I made sure to point out all of the blueprints hanging on the walls and all around the office. My husband pointed out what they were currently working on so she could see it on the "map" before watching the work in person. (We usually watch from the sidewalk just outside the jobsite. We have a good view and don't have to worry about the safety issues - although M does have her own hard hat and safety glasses if we go on site.)

Fun, fun, fun!! I'm finishing up some continent cards and a continent map to get ready to introduce the continents! So far, so good :) Don't forget to check back with us as we continue our Around the World Adventure!

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