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FREE maps and rich learning

As a teacher you hardly ever say ‘NO’ to something FREE! You may not know how or when you will use it but you think you may. This is how I and many other teachers have a garage full of items ready for that interest or project.

In getting a bag full of maps I realised that I had not used them in play for over 15 years. Good old goggle and looking on a phone are how we get directions these days and it made me think about the skills maps offer:

· Sense of space and direction (spatial skills)

· Distance and time (maths skills)

· Symbols for landmarks and nature (early literacy)

· Observation and navigation (STEM skills)

· Lines, shapes and contours (art)

· Mark making (fine motor skills)

I started by putting the FREE maps on the table in a bag for the children to find and explore. The intention was to see if they knew what they were, had seen them before and if they were interested in them. Only 1 child had seen a map before and knew it was a map. She said her Nan used it when she was lost. Another child said her Mum used her phone. I got out the tablet and found a map of where we were and then we looked on the paper map to try and find where we were. There were great observations and discussion about the lines and symbols used on the maps and what they were for.

The next day I set up the tuff tray with maps and a collection of items to support the provocation where am I? The children looked through the maps but did not really play with the items. The next day I put out one local map, vehicles and images of the children to explore and play on the tuff tray.

The play was rich and the conversation followed on from the day before. There were a number of maps from all over New Zealand for them to choose from. I had found in the garage of resources some postcards of iconic landmarks in New Zealand and added these. The greatest interest was in the symbols and lines. The cars drove down the lines to the water and green spaces. A child asked for a tape measure and grabbed paper on a clipboard, pencils, lids and string and measured the lines and then drew them on paper. He traced around the lid and coloured it in blue. T commented on the line and circle and he simply said he was making his own map.

The most popular maps were for our city so I put these out the next day with a ‘road’ in the centre of the tuff tray. The play was more about the vehicles today, but I did hear new words added to the play like ‘not that direction’ and 'over by the river there is a cross (church symbol)'.

With the younger children I set up a table with similar items but they were just chunkier. The children enjoyed the road but a number of them were showing an interest in pirates and treasure so I found a map with more water and added some x’s or crosses from out Kmart tic-tac-toe puzzle.

I discovered the great interest was in the ‘x’ on the map and making this symbol started happening with chalk on the pavement.

The children talked about the maps with their family and soon we were getting more FREE maps as they said they no longer used them. We had SO MANY maps we asked if they could be used for anything, including art. We got a yes and this is where another interest that was happening at the same time collided. We were enjoying Eric Carle's books and exploring his art (part of storybasketeers too )and decided we had so many maps we would add some to our paper bank for collage.

More on this in my next blog but here is how a map was used for Papa, please get me the moon.

What FREE resources have you gotten recently and used in play?

Until next time.


P.S. there are affliate links in this blog and if you purchase an item I may get a commission

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