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Encouraging Global Thinking: Kids and Maps

Exploring the world with our Leapfrog map

Raising children who understand the world they live in is a high priority for me, especially with family members spread across the globe. Maps are one of the easiest steps to accomplishing that goal!

I started my kids off with a very simple felt map of the continents of the world – this works even with children who like to eat things! I have a basic continents template here, if you would like to make one of your own!

Encouraging global thinking by looking at weather around the world

We have since added a globe, and a large wall map of the world. When I was a child, my siblings and I explored the world by spinning the globe, closing our eyes, and then learning about whatever place our finger had landed on when the globe stopped spinning. This is a game my kids now adore as well, and a wonderful way to explore the world!

With our giant wall map, I love using weather as a jumping off point for talking about different parts of the world and seasons! Large maps also work really well if you want to talk about where different types of animals live, or what foods grow where.

My kids also love playing with our LeapFrog Tag World Map, and we are starting to explore the world using Google Maps as described in the Exploring Geography post on Thailand written by Jenni of The Good Long Road.

How do you use maps with your children?

This post was written as part of an ongoing cross-blog conversation I’m running with Melitsa of Play Activities about ways parents can encourage global thinking and understanding. Here is Melitsa’s post about using maps, my post about global games, and Melitsa’s post about global games. Here is the next question we will be looking at: How can we use charitable opportunities to encourage global understanding?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

19 thoughts on “Encouraging Global Thinking: Kids and Maps”

  1. Hi, I find very interesting all your ideas about how we can help children to use maps… The International Cartographic Association has a Commission dedicated to this theme of Cartography and Children and we would like to invite you to visit our profile in Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/icaccc) and our website (http://lazarus.elte.hu/ccc/ccc.htm).

    I placed a link to this blog in our Facebook profile, because I consider that all the people interested in this topic will be happy to know about it :)

  2. Love your ideas! My little one loves the Tag maps also. We have always loved maps. Huge ones on the walls, puzzles (made our own large ones of several continents from foam board), globes, our Smart Globe, post card exchanges, unit studies, travel brochures, stopping at state Welcome Centers when traveling to get state maps. I just made continent boxes for my little one. They have maps, books, house playsets, dolls, puppets, play food and animals, stickers, flags, pictures, anything I came across and will be using one most months this year. One of my older boys won the school Geography Beeand I think a large portion was due to the fact that I use to give him a list of places to find on the huge map by our table to keep him from fighting with his siblings while i made dinner. Days when I didn’t have time for a list he looked to see how many Jefferson City, Springfield etc he could find.

  3. I am with you. It’s very important for me to raise global awareness in our daughter. Luckily, it comes with the territory for her – being raised in Silicon Valley in the family of first generation immigrants. It’s interesting to see her class – she has kids with roots in China, Japan, India, Israel, England, etc. And even though we are not a TV family, we are recording and watching Olympics now – I just wish NBC stopped focusing obsessively on American athletes!

  4. Elisa | blissfulE

    My kids love talking about it being night where Grandma is when it’s day here, and other things that are fascinating about this world we live on – like snow in the US when it’s scorching here. I still need to do that world map with weather… love that idea!!

  5. This is the best way to start our kids learn about the world. My daughter already memorized 10 countries. She’s only three years old.

  6. Thank you so much for the continent template. I’ve been thinking about doing something similar – this might just be the push I needed!

  7. We should definitely make kids aware of the world they live in. I must start now. We have books in the library about developing early map skills in kids. That could be a good start for my 6-year old.

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