Young children are often drawn to globes and maps, and love to see “where they are” in relation to the whole world-and to their own world.
Exploring maps with nursery and preschool children can be a terrific way for them to learn the relation of objects to one another and have fun exploring at the same time. Using simple descriptions such as “next to,” “beside,” “in front of,” “over,” and “under” help them understand location, and start to interpret simple maps. Imagining how shapes may look from different angles is the key to understanding maps, and also helps interpret space on a page. The following four books are especially good introductions to maps. Best of all, they inspire children to pick up crayons, pens, and paints to create their own maps.
As the Crow Flies: A First Book of Maps by Gail Hartman, illustrated by Harvey Stevenson
What kind of maps does a rabbit use? Or a crow, an eagle, a horse, or a seagull? Readers follow along each animal as they show their “favorite” ways to go. This book serves as a wonderful introduction to basic maps and mapping. In it, we see the world from each creature’s point of view, as well the key landmarks in their world. The illustrations are clear and inviting. A perfect first book of maps!
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney, illustrated by Annette Cable
Me on the Map is another simple book to introduce children to the idea of maps. The nameless little girl who narrates the book shows herself in her bedroom, then creates a simple map to illustrate herself in her room. From there, she expands to her neighborhood, city, state, country and world. One mom we know used this book and the mapping activities it inspires to teach her son their address. The book is simple, yet engaging.
Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy
Lisa also begins her mapping in her bedroom. She includes everything in her room: all the furniture and even her Boston terrier, Penny. She decides it would be fun to map Penny’s world as well as her own. Lisa explores Penny’s journeys and as she does, she explains the tools she uses to make the maps. She needs keys and symbols as she looks at her familiar world from a different perspective. The maps are very simple and uncluttered, making them a wonderful guide for children to use as they create their own maps.
My Map Book by Sara Fanelli
You can create maps of anything, like a map of your tummy, or your heart, your dog or your day! In Sara Fanelli’s bold, bright, and colorful book, you can search for and interact with each map. While there is no story, the book simply invites you to explore the pages, poring over the details and imagining new possibilities for maps. Children love to create their own maps after reading this book-especially the maps of their own hearts.
Young children are captivated by globes and appreciate exploration and discovery with these three-dimensional maps. Jacob is playing with The Earth Globe Beach Ball, made from NASA satellite images. You can tote this inflatable globe to the beach, your backyard, or your playroom as a way to get interactive with maps.