Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Maps and Kids

(This is a cross post from my personal blog, Grateful for Grace.)

Years ago I was on the hunt for something and then just out of the blue we were given exactly what I was looking for, times ten! We received a box of National Geographic maps. A big box. A nice big box. I was thrilled. Seriously.

We have done lots of things with those maps, but the main reason I was so excited was because maps are wonderful ways to encourage learning.

Give a kid a map and then start talking. Look for mountains. Look for lakes. Look for silly city names. Look for anything.

Keeping up a world map and a country map (the one you live in… maybe not just any random country ;-) ), encourages children (and adults, actually) to go look for whatever place was just mentioned in the news, in the conversation, in the book, in the FB note, whatever.

An easy way to enhance whatever your child is studying (be it in your homeschool or in public/private school) is to put up maps that are related. You can download them and bring them to Office Max/Kinko’s/any print shop and have them enlarged or just print them out at home. It really depends on you, your kiddo and the topic.

It works for me and I think it would work for you to look for maps to enhance your child’s curiosity and education. The internet is full of crazy maps, even if they aren’t wall sized, and I’m pretty sure you can find something for any topic your child is studying in history or geography. For example here a few I found:

Map of Lewis and Clark’s Route

Map of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Homes/Travels

If you can Google it, you can most likely find a map of it. Try it. What are your kiddos studying?

A few weeks ago I got a killer bargain on a wall map set just like the kind my teachers used when I was in elementary school.

Actually, it might be the actual one my teacher used, ahem. Whatever. This darling was one dollar for the wooden support and twenty-five cents for each map. Suh-weet!

Sure, the Asia map is out of date, but now it makes for a history lesson (USSR vs Russia, for example).

Sure, the dust is probably as old as I am, but these maps are huge and wonderful.

Add them to the ones I bought at Costco for only $7 each (the world map is behind the USA map, ran out of wall space), and I have a wall full of maps for my kids to look over that stay up year round. Our focus of study this year is a bit easier to find extra maps for (besides the big box of National Geographic maps in my cabinet, wahoo!) since we are studying a different country or region every few weeks. I put up maps about our area of focus for the week(s) to help them. I had two for Australia, so they got two views: city and topographical.


Texas stays up because… well… hello! It’s Texas.

This night view of the world map has sparked several conversations.

Putting up a map gives a topic a different perspective for us and for own children. It’s a visual. Literally. And we all known visuals enhance learning.

Go forth and find some fun maps for your kids! I bet you all end up learning something and having fun at the same time.

From Our School to Yours: Find some great maps for year round use and some specific ones for current studies. Maps often help kiddos understand an event better than talking about it.


  1. We have a few up, and a few tucked away that we use. Some things I found helpful, not having wall space -- placemats that are maps. The kids can pull them out, look at them, etc. We also found placemat sized blank maps at a teacher supply store, so they can use those for map activities.

    Then we have a world map shower curtain, hung up behind our regular curtains in the school/dining room. Not tons of detail, but enough for the big picture.

    We use Uncle Josh's Outline Maps for printing maps for them to label, but I love your idea to google maps for examples. Thanks!

    Trying not to be jealous over your wonderful find.....

  2. Great ideas, Reader!

    It's fun to see all the different maps available online.