intro: Because many parents use digital apps for navigation, many children may not be familiar with traditional maps. This activity gives children a bird's eye view at the process of making and reading physical maps.
set up ideas: In order to save some time, tape off boundaries on the floor before the kids enter the room. You may want to also set up the materials that each group of students will use to create their maps ahead of time.
let's get started
Collect blocks, other construction materials (cardboard, empty paper towel rolls, empty tissue boxes, etc.), masking tape, construction paper, glue or glue sticks and scissors. Ask students if they pay attention to maps when their moms or dads are driving them from place to place.
step 1 Point out the important “landmarks” in the classroom and tell the children they are going to create a map of what a bird might see if the bird was looking down from above. Discuss common uses of maps.
step 2 Pair each child with a partner or put them into small groups. Distribute the construction materials to each group. Instruct the children to create a 3-dimensional map of the classroom.
step 3 Tape off an area on the floor for each group. Tell the children that the tape represents the walls of the classroom. Instruct the children to create a basic map of the classroom using the blocks and other materials.
step 4 When the models are complete, have the children recreate their map using construction paper, scissors and glue to create a 2-dimensional map. Drawing the map is an alternative to this step.
Ask students how they think their maps compare with the actual classroom. Suggest that students dictate directions according to their maps as if a friend was trying to get from one "landmark" to another. Encourage the students to share which features of the room they’d consider most prominent.
Tips and Tricks Find as many unique construction materials as you can. This is the perfect opportunity to repurpose or recycle things that you would otherwise be throwing away. Give the children the chance to let their imaginations run wild.
Follow up Activity Have students create maps of places that they are very familiar with. For younger groups, you may consider having the children create a map of an imaginary land or a place that they dream of going.