Today I wanted to share what my kiddos learned about maps. I like to start the week off with this very simple book called Maps. It's very short, but gives the kids a great introduction to the vocabulary.
The main vocab words I focus on are: map, map key, symbol. near, far and next to. I also introduce the compass rose and the directions: north, south, west and east.
We do a couple written activities where the kids have to look at maps and answer questions. I display them on my SMART board so the kids have one to reference when completing their own:
We also label our classroom walls with the correct directions. We then play the North, South, East, West game! It is so simple, but they love it!
Here are the rules: One person stands in the middle with their eyes closed and counts backwards from 10. Everyone else WALKS to a wall of their choice. After they finishing counting, the middle person shouts out a direction. For example, if they said west, everyone on the west wall would be out and have to sit down. The middle person then counts backwards again and everyone left chooses a new wall. This continues until there is only one person remaining. They are new "it" or middle person.
This game is a great time filler and an easy way to get the kids moving. It also gives the kids a chance to work on the directions vocab.
Of course, I also have the kids try their hand at drawing their own maps. I had them draw maps of two places they know very well: our classroom and their bedroom.
To end the week, I plan a little surprise for the kids: a treasure hunt! My classroom is pirate themed so this is always a fun activity for my kiddos. Before school I place different clues around our school. After we come in from recess, there is a clue on the door telling the kids we are going on a treasure hunt. Every year they are extremely pumped to do this!
The final clue leads us back to the classroom where we find a treasure box!
In order to get the treasure, I tell the kids they have to walk quietly and it's amazing how calm and quiet they walk through the school. They want that treasure BAD! This is great for later too because I often tell my students if they are being too rowdy in line to remember our "treasure hunt line" and remind them that is how we should walk every day.
Our final activity is to draw a map and label the different places we went to find clues. I first modeled drawing the map on my SMART board and had the kids come up with symbols for each place we visited. Then the kids drew their own: