There's no better way to capture a child's interest and spark his imagination than to create things to demonstrate learning. This could be a model, a poster, task cards, a game, a diorama, a play, or a podcast just to name a few.
When children are engaged and motivated, they tend to learn more deeply and they are more passionate about their project.
There are many different types of projects that can be done based on the subject and concepts that are to be studied. Today, I would like to focus on some projects that work well with the primary social studies topics of families and communities.
Community projects and research
Assigning research projects where children investigate different aspects of their community, such as its history, economy, or cultural heritage and present their findings through presentations, posters, or multimedia projects develops research skills, information literacy, and a deeper understanding of the community's development.
We often study about families and look at family trees in the early grades. I wanted to take this further, so I developed a project that studied family heritage. To find out more about it and why it was important to me, check out this post.
The goal of the project was to learn more about what make us unique and special. It was a great way to research different cultural aspects of various countries and share them with others. Check out the project here.
Flat Family Project
Many people are probably familiar with Flat Stanley and the project that began with sending cutouts of Flat Stanley around the world and recording adventures with him. Then people began sending cutouts of themselves to record these adventures.
I decided to take this a step further as part of our heritage studies. We created flat families and journals that we mailed to family members in different parts of the world. The families took photos of activities together and made journal entries to share. They returned these journals along with special mementos to the children. It was so exciting to watch the faces of the children when a package arrived and the contents were shared with the class.
This Flat Family project has been set up for others to try. You can read more about it here.
Creating A 3D Community Project
Learning about communities and what they need is important. What better way to make sure that they understand what they have learned than to create a 3D community. This was a fun project that wowed the parents and other classes, not only because of its appearance, but also because of how much the kids could share that they had learned. Check it out here.
If you would like to learn more about how we created it, check out this blog post.
These are just 3 different projects that can be done. If you are interested in other projects, check out my social studies category. I hope you find doing projects as successful as I did.
When thinking about communities, the story of the country mouse and the town mouse often comes to mind. Where we live becomes our reality and we often don't know much about other ways of life except through stories and pictures. It is important to broaden our horizons and discover more about the world around us and the different types of communities that make up our world.
As teachers, we need to teach our students about communities and how they can impact our lives. Learning about communities, their importance, differences, and development can be an engaging and meaningful experience for children.
There are many different ways to help kids better understand what communities are, how they are the same or different, and why they are important. These could include field trips, community interviews, listening to guest speakers, role playing different community helper roles, participating in different community service activities, comparing different kinds of communities, creating community maps, exploring literature and listening to storytelling, participating in different cultural celebrations and creating a community project.
Let's take a closer look.
1. Field Trips
Field trips are a great way to get a hands on experience. They can be done in a couple of different ways.
1. Arrange field trips to various community locations such as fire stations, libraries, local government offices, farms, parks, or historical sites. This gives the children the opportunity to observe, interact, and learn from community members. Encourage them to ask questions and make connections between the places they visit and the roles they play within the community.
2. Organize field trips to different types of communities within your region, such as urban areas, rural towns, or suburban neighborhoods. Visit local government buildings, parks, historical sites, or cultural centers. Encourage children to observe and compare the features, services, and characteristics of each community.
2. Community Interviews
Encourage children to interview community members, such as parents, grandparents, neighbors, local business owners, or local volunteers about their experiences and contributions to the community. They can ask questions about their roles, the services they provide, and the changes they have witnessed in the community over time. This activity promotes interaction, communication skills, and understanding of different perspectives. It allows children to learn about different perspectives, values, and the ways in which individuals shape and impact their communities.
3. Guest Speakers
Invite guest speakers from various professions or community organizations, such as local government officials, community leaders, or representatives from nonprofit organizations to talk to the children. They can share their experiences, explain their roles within the community, discuss the importance of their work, and talk about the development and unique aspects of their specific community. This firsthand interaction helps children understand the diversity of community roles and how they contribute to the well-being of society.
4. Literature And Storytelling
Read books and stories that focus on communities and their development. Discuss the roles of different community members, the services they provide, and the ways in which they contribute to the well-being of the community. Encourage children to discuss the characters' experiences, values, and the significance of community in the story. Help them make connections and share their own stories or experiences related to their community.
5. Role Playing
Set up a dramatic play area where children can pretend to be community helpers or act out community-related scenarios. Provide props, costumes, and materials that represent various community roles like doctors, teachers, police officers, or shopkeepers. This hands-on experience allows children to explore different community roles and understand their responsibilities.
6. Community Service Participation
Engage children in community service projects such as organizing a neighborhood clean-up, food drives, bottle drives, collecting donations for local charities, or planting trees in public spaces. These projects promote active involvement and an understanding of community needs. This hands-on experience helps them develop empathy, a sense of responsibility, and a deeper appreciation for their community. Children learn the importance of active citizenship and the positive impact they can have on their community.
7. Different Kinds Of Communities
Explore different types of communities, such as rural, suburban, and urban areas. Discuss the similarities and differences between them, including aspects like housing, transportation, amenities, and services. This helps children understand the diversity of communities and the factors that shape their development.
Here are some resources that might help.
8. Community Maps
Have children create maps of their own communities. They can include landmarks, places of interest, and community resources. They can identify and label places like schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. Have discussions about the purpose of these places, their roles within the community, and how they contribute to the well-being of residents.
Look at community maps of different places and types of communities. Compare and contrast the maps to highlight the diversity and uniqueness of each community.
9. Cultural Celebrations
Celebrate and explore cultural diversity within the community through festivals, cultural events, or international days. Invite families to share their traditions, music, dance, or cuisine with the children. This helps children recognize and appreciate the diversity within their community and promotes understanding and acceptance of different cultures. It helps them understand that communities are made up of people from various backgrounds.
10. Community Project
Engage children in community development projects for their school, such as creating a community garden, or planning a recycling program. Allow them to brainstorm ideas, collaborate, and take action to address school community needs. This hands-on involvement fosters a sense of ownership and empowers children to contribute to the betterment of their community.
Have fun with these activities and teaching your students.
Travel today is very different. Technology has advanced so much that it is rare to see paper maps in the car now unless you are on The Amazing Race!
I'm sure some of you remember hauling out a folded up map or a booklet of travel maps when taking a trip. You usually had to plot your trip at home so that you could find your way when driving or you needed a navigator to help you get to where you were going.
Let's check out some different activities and resources that focus on mapping skills using technology.
Google Earth Exploration
Using the app Google Earth, start by checking out different places in the community. Kids love to see their homes on the screen. It can be fun to see how things have changed if the images are older and the houses have been renovated or painted.
Once you have checked out areas in the community, expand the exploration to other parts of the country and the world. This is a great activity to tie in with a social studies project like my Flat Family Project where the flat families are sent around the world to other relatives.
Plan A Geocaching Adventure
Geocaching is popular around the world. It is really a high tech treasure hunt. Sometimes there are small trinkets to trade, but the excitement is really in finding the small cache (sometimes it is very small and called a nano). Kids love to go treasure hunting, so this is a great way to introduce them to the gps devices and how they work.
Organize a mini-geocaching activity on the school grounds or in a nearby area. This will require students to follow GPS coordinates and maps to find hidden caches.
I did this with my class and then we actually planted a cache for others to find. It was exciting to see the messages when people found it. Unfortunately, it isn't there anymore as someone took it away, but it was fun while it lasted.
Virtual Map Exploration
Utilize interactive online mapping tools or apps that allow children to explore maps virtually. These tools can make map exploration engaging as well as interactive. They can zoom in and out, explore different regions, and locate famous landmarks. Encourage them to identify key features, read labels, and learn about different places.
Online Map Games
Incorporate map-based games and quizzes to test and reinforce your students' knowledge. (You can always do some off-line games and quizzes too if you don't have enough devices available.)
Virtual Field Trips
Take your students on virtual field trips to different parts of the world. Websites and platforms offer immersive experiences that connect geography and culture.
Local museums and other places may also have tours available that can be viewed online. Our museum had a walking tour of the different landmarks in town available. At each spot there were questions to answer. This was a great way to learn about the history as well as discover the locations of the the different landmarks.
These are only a few of the different ways you can use technology with mapping skills.
It might be fun to get your students to brainstorm more ways that technology is used and perhaps do a project or activity that shares these ideas with others.
Are you looking for innovative ways to introduce mapping skills to your young students? Mapping skills are an important tool for students to have as they navigate their way through the world. It's important to nurture these fundamental skills early on. Here are some creative ideas to make learning about maps engaging and fun in your classroom.
Puzzles are a great tool for learning about geography and how to read maps. They can be used to study areas where kids live or other parts of the world. Starting with smaller areas and expanding to the world view follows a similar pattern to teaching about families, neighborhoods, cities, provinces, territories, or states, and then full countries when learning about communities.
Encourage artistic expression by having students create their own maps, whether it's their neighborhood, a fantasy land, or a treasure map. You could even create a map gallery or bulletin board with their maps. It might be fun to have them create some stories to go along with their maps.
Map stories can be incorporated in a variety of ways to make mapping more meaningful. Here are a few ideas.
1. Create some stories that involve using a map or discovering a place by following directions. These can be based on actual events or fantasies.
2. Integrate storytelling with mapping. Read colorful storybooks that involve journeys and create simple story maps together. Ask your students to draw the story's path on their own maps.
3. Read books and stories that focus on communities and their development. Discuss the roles of different community members, the services they provide, and the ways in which they contribute to the well-being of the community. Encourage children to share their own stories or experiences related to their community.
4. Have students create maps of their favorite storybooks. This activity not only reinforces map skills but also connects literature and geography.
As soon as you mention a treasure hunt, some children are hooked. They are curious to find out about hidden treasure and to go on the hunt. This is a great time to incorporate mapping skills and adventure.
Organize classroom treasure hunts where students use maps to locate hidden "treasures" within the school. This activity combines problem-solving with map reading.
Create a treasure hunt activity outdoors where children follow a map to find hidden objects or clues. Provide a simple map with landmarks and directional instructions, and let them navigate their way to the treasure. This activity promotes map reading, following directions, and spatial awareness.
Map Symbols And Legends
Some important mapping skills for young children to learn include being able to interpret symbols and legends as well as use scale and a compass rose. Activities should be created to help with developing these skills. Here are some suggestions:
1. Provide them with simple maps and legends and practice reading them together. They should learn to recognize and locate landmarks, such as buildings, parks, or bodies of water, on maps. This helps them build a mental map of their environment and develop a sense of place. They can also practice creating simple maps of their classroom, neighborhood, or a familiar route using symbols and adding in a legend.
2. Understanding the concept of scale on maps, where distances are represented proportionally is another important skill for them to learn. They need to learn to estimate distances and understand that maps are a condensed representation of a larger area. Doing activities that help them to visualize how scale works helps.
For example: if they want to walk down to the corner, it is very different from walking several blocks to the store. They need to understand that on a map you can't really draw the distances as they really are and that small distances need to be very close together and longer distances need to be much further apart on the map to represent the distances in real life. Try using a tiled floor to show how this could work. The distance of one tile could be one block. If something was down at the corner, it could be one tile away. If something was 6 blocks away, it could be 6 tiles away. This could then be transferred to graph paper so that each square represents a block. Using graph paper instead of tiles helps them to see that to represent larger distances the scale needs to be smaller.
3. Following directions can be difficult at first. Learning about the compass rose and cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) and basic navigational concepts like left, right, up, and down is an important skill.
Do plenty of games and activities to practice giving and following directions using maps or verbal instructions. For example, you can play "Simon Says" using directional cues like "Simon says take two steps forward" or "Simon says turn to the left." This activity reinforces cardinal directions and helps them practice spatial orientation.
Map Reading Challenges: Provide children with different maps and ask them to locate specific landmarks, calculate distances, or plan routes between two points. You can also create map-based riddles or puzzles for them to solve. This activity enhances their map-reading skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities.
There are many different ways to create community maps and each of them can serve different purposes. Here are a few suggestions and how they can be used to enhance student learning.
1. Encourage students to create community maps that depict different features, landmarks, and institutions in their local area. They can identify and label places like schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. Discuss the purpose of these places, their roles within the community, and how they contribute to the well-being of residents.
2. Have them create maps of different communities that include landmarks, places of interest, and community resources. Encourage them to label different locations and discuss their importance. Compare and contrast the maps to highlight the diversity and uniqueness of each community.
3. Collaboratively create a map of your school's surroundings or neighborhood. Include landmarks, parks, and other points of interest.
4. Collaborate with other classrooms or community members to create a community map. Each group can be responsible for mapping a specific area or theme. Children can work together to gather information, create maps, and present their findings to the community. This project fosters teamwork, research skills, and a sense of community engagement.
These are only a few of the different ways that teaching mapping skills can be engaging and fun for kids. For some resources that may help, check out my social studies category on TPT.
Next time we will look at using technology with mapping skills to enhance the learning and take it further away from home.
Mapping skills are very important for navigating through the world as we know it. They provide a foundation for understanding spatial relationships, developing a sense of direction, and enhancing critical thinking abilities. Let's look a little closer at some reasons mapping skills are important for young children to learn.
1. Spatial Awareness: Mapping skills help children develop a sense of space and their position within it. They learn to understand distances, sizes, and locations of objects in relation to themselves and other landmarks. This spatial awareness is crucial for tasks such as navigating their environment, following directions, and understanding maps or diagrams.
2. Critical Thinking: Learning mapping skills involves analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing information. Children learn to observe details, identify patterns, and make connections between different elements. They develop critical thinking skills as they solve problems, plan routes, and make decisions based on visual information.
3. Communication and Language Development: Maps are a form of visual communication. By learning to read and interpret maps, children enhance their communication and language skills. They learn to understand and use symbols, legends, and keys to convey information. They also develop vocabulary related to directions, landmarks, and spatial concepts.
Not only does teaching mapping skills promote these qualities, they also prepare children for other aspects of life. It is important to provide as many opportunities to develop these skills as possible to equip them for life experiences. Here are some mapping skills that are important for young children to learn.
Children should learn how to read basic maps, including understanding symbols, legends, and scales. They can also practice creating simple maps of their classroom, neighborhood, or a familiar route.
They should also learn cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) and basic navigational concepts like left, right, up, and down. They can practice giving and following directions using maps or verbal instructions.
Identifying landmarks around them is an important skill that helps them to recognize and locate landmarks, such as buildings, parks, or bodies of water, on maps. This helps them build a mental map of their environment and develop a sense of place.
The concept of scale and proportion are also key for reading maps, where distances are represented proportionally. They can learn to estimate distances and understand that maps are a condensed representation of a larger area.
The goal is for chilidren to be able to transfer their map skills to real-world scenarios. For example, they can use maps to plan a route for a field trip, find their way in a new park, or locate specific areas in their community.
Mapping skills empower children to navigate their surroundings independently. By understanding maps, they can find their way, plan routes, and locate places of interest. This fosters self-reliance, confidence, and a sense of agency in exploring their environment.
This booklet is a great introduction to map skills for young children.
Next time I will share some different activities that can help with engaging kids by teaching these important mapping skills.
Changing weather, cooler temperatures, and color changes are all signs of the arrival of fall. There's something magical about the colors, sounds, and smells of fall. Students often find themselves more engaged in learning when they are surrounded by the beauty of nature. Whether it's studying the changing colors of leaves, identifying different animals, or learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin, outdoor lessons are inherently captivating.
Fresh air and natural surroundings can help improve students' focus and stimulate their creativity. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can boost cognitive function and problem-solving skills, making outdoor classrooms an ideal setting for critical thinking activities.
Spending time outdoors has been linked to improved mental health and reduced stress levels. Fall's cool, crisp air and the calming influence of nature can help students feel more relaxed and connected to the world around them.
The hands on experiences and fresh air also invigorate students and engage them in their learning.
Fall is the perfect time to encourage physical activity among students. Hiking, nature walks, and outdoor games not only promote exercise but also foster teamwork and social interaction. Getting students moving in a natural setting can help overcome the hours of sitting in classrooms and keep them engaged.
There are many different subjects that can be taught outdoors. Each of these add a real world element to the students' learning and experience. Integrating social studies and science activities into your fall outdoor learning adventures can provide a well-rounded educational experience. To further enrich your fall outdoor learning adventures, try incorporating some math and language activities into the mix.
Here are some suggestions for social studies, science, math, and language arts that might be of interest.
• visiting local historical landmarks
* learning about fall harvest and traditions
• using maps and doing a geography scavenger hunt
• leaf identification activities
• studying the pumpkin life cycle
• weather monitoring
• learning about weathering and erosion
* keeping a nature journal
• stream study
• learning about seed dispersements
• nature math scavenger hunt
• using measurement skills outdoors
• fall data collection
• outdoor poetry writing
• nature journaling with descriptive writing
• vocabulary scavenger hunt (looking for examples in nature)
• reading fall themed books
Here are some preparation tips that will help make your outdoor sessions successful.
Select an outdoor location that suits your curriculum and learning objectives. Local parks, forested areas, the seashore, or even your school's own outdoor spaces can be transformed into effective learning environments. Make sure students are dressed appropriately for the fall weather. Layers, hats, and gloves are essential to keep everyone comfortable during outdoor lessons.
Tailor your lessons to incorporate the unique features of fall. Explore topics like the changing colors of leaves, the science behind falling leaves, the life cycle of pumpkins, or even Halloween-themed literature.
Bring technology outdoors by using tablets or smartphones for nature observation apps or taking pictures to document findings. This can enhance the learning experience and provide opportunities for digital storytelling.
Make sure that your plans are flexible and adaptable as the weather can be unpredictable and you may need to make changes quickly.
With preparation ahead of time and some back up ideas in case of change, getting outside to learn is worth the effort and will benefit your students.
Embracing the great outdoors during the fall season is a fantastic way to enhance your students' learning experience. The benefits of outdoor education are numerous, from improved engagement and focus to enhanced physical and mental well-being. By incorporating nature into your curriculum, you can create unforgettable learning moments and inspire a lifelong love for the natural world in your students. So, this fall, take your class outside and let the wonders of the season become your classroom.
Happy outdoor learning!
Teachers, do your kids struggle with doing research on Canada because the material is too difficult to read and understand?
Would you like to find material that provides information in an easier to read format?
Does this sound like you?
• the materials are too difficult for many of your students to understand
• the students are constantly asking for help
• there aren't enough resources available that are suitable for younger students
• you spend hours searching for materials that will help your students
• you start wondering if doing research is worth all the frustration
Are you tired of:
• kids struggling to read and find information in nonfiction reference books?
• kids getting frustrated and always needing help to locate information for their research?
• searching for suitable material for younger students that has the information needed for research?
I've been there. I often tried to get my kids to do research for various different topics and I spent most of my time either helping them to find materials or helping them to navigate through the material to find the relevant information needed.
I enjoyed doing projects with my students, but it was a lot of prep and energy to do so, especially for social studies. I knew I needed to make some changes.
I created a series of booklets for Canada that were easier to read and full of pictures and maps that helped with the research. I then had a couple of classes try them out. They worked well and the kids felt successful with their research. Finally I had something that younger kids could use.
Research booklets for the 10 provinces and 3 territories
There are individual booklets for each of the provinces and territories with an added booklet of the symbols for each.
English and French versions available
An English version, Canada My Country, and a French version, Canada mon pays, are available as individual booklets and bundles
Easy to read format with photographs to help
Each page features a photograph or map and an easy to read description. If your students are doing research on Canada's provinces and territories and need easy to read material, these bundles are right for you.
Here are some of the features:
• Maps of the province or territory and its location in Canada
• Photographs to go along with the research information
• Information about industries, services, and interesting facts
• A booklet of the symbols for each of the provinces or territories
I created these booklets for my class when I saw how difficult the materials in our library were for them to read. It felt so good to see them doing the necessary research and enjoying it because they weren't struggling with the material.
Don't take my word for it. Here's what others have to say:
Get your Canada Research Bundle now and be ready for your kids to learn about the provinces and territories.
Your younger students can do research successfully.
Let's recap and you will see why these materials work
• All booklets are set up with a similar format
• They contain maps and explain where the provinces or territories are located
• Capital cities and some well-known landmarks are included
• Main industries or services are included
• Interesting facts are included
• Photographs are clear and visually appealing
Time to feel good about your kids doing research!
The sunshine is here and kids are anxious to get outside, so why not take advantage of this and do some outdoor math activities and other lessons? Many different subjects can be done outside the classroom walls if you add in some creativity and movement. Here are 5 fun ideas for teaching math and social studies outdoors.
Taking Measurement Outdoors
Many classes study measurement in the spring. A culminating activity for this could be an outdoor event where teams practice linear measurement. Here is a resource that might help.
Outdoor Measurement Games Team Events
Working With Time And Racing
If you teach time in the spring, perhaps you could go one step further and introduce stopwatches. Timing different events can be fun and many different devices actually have stopwatches on them now.
You could have a fun day with different activities that need timing, such as running, filling different containers, wheelbarrow races, etc. You could also set a time to beat and have the kids do activities that have to beat the time. For older children, comparing times, looking at the data and maybe even figuring out elapsed time could also be included.
Because the kids are having fun and moving around, they won't realize that they are studying time, but they will be applying skills to real world situations.
Taking Mapping Skills Outdoors
Reading maps and understanding them is still an important skill in today's digital age. Many people rely on the maps feature in their vehicle or on their phone to get them from point A to point B, but they don't have a clear understanding of how to read maps on their own. Learning how to use mapping skills like directions and grids helps when using maps at places that don't have a digital option. For example, when you go to certain amusement parks, zoos, or other events that have activities and events spread out around the grounds, being able to follow a map is important. Just think of all the maps in malls, at parks, or even at visitor centers that have "You Are Here" indicated on them. Can you follow directions from there to get to where you want to go?
Teaching kids how to use these skills in practical settings requires practice. Here is a chance to get outside and actually try to use them to find things, locate different areas, and be able to help others to find them too. Creating maps of the neighborhood or school grounds can also work as practice using grids, directions, and even symbols and legends. Here is a resource that may help.
Mapping Skills Using Grids
Using Grids And Working With Scale
Understanding how scale works is an important skill when interpreting maps, blueprints, house plans, and other documents. A great way to practice doing this is using grid paper and measuring the perimeter or area of an object and then drawing it on the paper. It is important to indicate what the size of each square is so that the measurements match what is drawn on the paper. You could choose the school yard, playground, surrounding neighborhood or any other area or object for your topic.
Here is a resource that may help with understanding perimeter and area along with some activities to practice using both.
Perimeter And Area
Solving Math Word Problems
Word problems can be especially challenging for some kids, so taking them outdoors and actually doing some hands on work with them might help. I remember creating puzzles when I was geocaching that required people to solve math questions using objects in the park in order to find the coordinates. Something similar could be done in the school yard. For example, check out and find all the trash containers, swings, trees, signs, basketball hoops, hopscotch or foursquare marking, etc. Using these objects around the school yard, create math word problems that must be solved. You could work in pairs, individually, or even in teams to solve them.
The Sky's The Limit
These are only a few of the different activities that can be done outdoors to work on math and social studies skills. Depending on what you are studying and how creative you are, there are many others that can be done as well.
So get outside, have fun, and keep the learning going.
If you ask a group of young children what a map is, you're likely to get a variety of answers. Some will say it's a picture of a place, while others will say it shows how to get from one place to another. Some will even tell you that it's a way to find buried treasure! While all of these answers are technically correct, they only scratch the surface of what maps are and what they can do. But what all these answers have in common is that they recognize the importance of maps in our lives.
Mapping is important for kids to learn about. It helps them develop their geography and spatial awareness skills, and can also be a lot of fun!
There are a few key mapping terms and skills that need to be taught in order for them to be able to use maps effectively. Words like map, title, legend, compass rose, grid, scale, and symbols need to be explained and activities need to be done to practice using these terms.
Key Mapping Terms
In a nutshell, here's a quick explanation of these terms.
- A map is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional space.
- The different parts of a map include the title, symbols, legend, compass rose, grids and scale.
- The title tells you what the map is of.
- The symbols are shapes or small pictures that represent real things.
- The legend explains the symbols used on the map.
- The compass rose shows you which way is north, south, east, and west.
- The grid is a set of lines that go up and down and side to side that help you find places on the map.
- The scale shows the distance between places or objects. It can also be used for 3D maps to make sure that objects are appropriate sizes.
Once kids know what the terms mean, they can start to figure out where things are on the map. This Map Skills booklet below will help explain these terms. Here are some sample pages.
To practice mapping skills, there are many different activities that children can do. Here are a few ideas to try. I have broken them down into different features.
Identifying symbols and reading legends
For identifying symbols and reading legends, provide a variety of different types of maps and have the children find the different symbols shown in the legend. Do the reverse as well. Find symbols on the maps and then identify them using the legend. It is important that they realize that sometimes the symbols do not look like the real objects, but with the legend, they will still be able to identify what they are.
Using a compass rose
Using a compass rose can be lots of fun. If you have access to an area outside, it can be used to pretend to find treasure. For example: Take 10 steps North and then turn East for 20 steps. Turn South and follow along the fence for another 15 steps and turn Southwest. You are 12 steps away from the buried treasure.
After physically practicing changing directions and moving, it is important to transfer this skill to a map. Perhaps they can find different places on a neighbourhood map and practice giving directions to others to help them find it too.
For practice using grids, create grids on graph paper and practice drawing lines to connect the letters and numbers to see where they intersect. Put some objects on a grid and then play games like I Spy and have the kids tell you the coordinates for the space the object is on. You can also play games like Battleship. All of these activities will help them to become familiar with using a grid. Then you can move over to actual maps and do activities there.
Working with scale
Scale is a harder concept for kids to understand. It can be used in two different ways when creating a map or a community model.
Scale on a map is used to represent distances. This ties in with measurement and understanding different linear measures such as inches/miles and centimetres/kilometres. Getting comfortable with using a scale with distance will take lots of practice. Using grid paper to practice drawing out different measurements will help with visualizing this. Measuring out distances on actual maps and doing the conversions is also necessary.
For creating a community model, it is important for kids to see objects in relation to each other to understand how scale works. For example, if a toy car represents a real car, a toilet paper roll would be too big to represent a power pole. Creating 3D models help with visualizing scales of objects and what fits together.
Creating own maps
Finally, primary students can also learn how to make their own maps. This activity helps them understand how scale works, and how different features can be represented on a map. Kids love to be creative. Perhaps they could create their own neighbourhood map or treasure map and let others try to locate things using the skills they have learned.
Maps are essential tools for navigation in the real world, whether we're trying to find our way around a new city or just planning a cross-country road trip. As children become more familiar with the features of a map and practice using their skills, they'll be better equipped to navigate their way through the world around them later on.
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Have you ever wondered why some communities look the way they do? Why there are buildings in some places and not others? And why some communities have more services than others?
These are big questions that are important to answer when teaching children about communities and community planning.
I loved creating a 3D community with my students. It took time to plan from beginning to end, many discussions and decisions, and space in the room for the completed project, but the final result was worth it. You can read more about it here.
Types of communities
Before doing any kind of planning it is important to know what kind of community you want to create. Kids need to look at different types of communities and see how they are the same and different.
There are 3 main types of communities to explore - urban, suburban, and rural. They have unique characteristics that need to be considered when doing community planning.
Here are some to get started with.
- Urban communities are usually bustling with activity.
- They are densely populated, with a mix of commercial and residential buildings.
- High rises and busy streets are also often seen in urban communities.
- There are a wide range of industries and services available from retail to healthcare to manufacturing.
- Services and industries are often located close together, making it convenient for people to work and shop.
- There are many restaurants and shops in urban areas to meet the demands of the population.
- Suburban communities are not as densely populated
- They have less industry and fewer services than urban areas
- They tend to have more parks and recreation facilities
- There are many single dwelling homes with some small apartment buildings, townhouses, or other types of multiple dwelling homes.
- There are some local schools
- There may be some small shops and restaurants
- Rural communities are the least populated
- They are primarily agricultural lands
- They may also be used for industrial purposes
- Houses are spaced further apart
- There is much more space and privacy for people living there
- Transportation access is important because of the distances away from many services such as schools and hospitals
- Access to natural resources such as water supply is necessary
When planning a community, it's important to consider the needs of the population. What types of services and industries are required? Where should different types of buildings be located? What is needed to make the community work for its residents? These are all important questions that need to be considered in order to create a successful community.
It's important to help kids understand the various types of services and businesses that are found in each type of community. Things like schools, hospitals, and public transportation are essential for any community to function properly. Locations of these services are different depending on the type of community, but they need to be accessible.
By understanding these things, kids can develop a better appreciation for the importance of planning in any community.
Ultimately, a community needs to meet the needs of its population in order to be successful. This means that there must be a balance between residential, commercial, and industrial development. There also needs to be enough green space and amenities to support the community's residents. By taking all of these factors into consideration, planners can create communities that thrive.
Kids love the hands on activities of planning and creating a community. Here are some samples of one community that was done by one of my grade 1/2 classes.
If you would like to see a copy of the plan that we used and some of the materials included, check it out here.
My class had a great experience creating this community. I wish you success should you venture to create one in your classroom.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.