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One day my friend sent me a picture of her preschooler reading a treasure map while sitting on his tricycle. He uses the map to lead the way during their outside adventures. I thought this was a great way to incorporate leadership and exploration during playtime.
I wanted my son, also a preschooler, to have a similar experience so I researched children’s books at the library about mapping. I found the book, Treasure Map, by Stuart Murphy. This book is about a group of friends, the Elm Street Kids’ Club, following a treasure map to find a time capsule. The author shows the reader how to follow a map by giving clues that identify landmarks and directions.
For example, Clue #1 says “From Elm Street, walk down First Avenue toward Rocky River. At the next corner, Oak Street, turn left.”
Children are also taught to use cooperation and their problem-solving skills while mapping. The map in this book was created 50 years ago; therefore, some landmarks have changed during that time. For example, what was once a dirt path is now a sidewalk. The children have to decide if the sidewalk will lead them to the treasure.
Other concepts presented in the book are decision-making skills, interpreting symbols, and scales. The author provides teachers and parents activities to supplement learning. Furthermore, he includes other books that address map reading skills.
How we applied it
My neighbor told us about a new playground in our area that is walking distance. I decided to draw a map that led to the playground. I used the Waze app to ensure it was drawn correctly. Below is an example of the map we followed.
The night before our adventure, my son and I read Treasure Map. After reading each clue in the book, we identified the path to the treasure. Then I showed him the map I created and he became excited. He wanted to go outside that night to find the playground. I told him we had to wait until the next day, but he insisted that the map stay in his room overnight.
When my son came home from school the next evening, the first thing he grabbed was the map. He identified landmarks, street signs, and led the way with very little assistance from me. Reading the book help hone his navigation skills. We found the playground and felt accomplished! He also guided us back home. The following weekend he took his dad to the same playground and led the way.
Try a similar activity at home or school and go on an adventure!
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