Sunday, May 29, 2016

Maps, Mappy Maps!

Students in first grade enrichment have been continuing their study of community with mapping activities and investigations.  Over the last several weeks we have explored classroom maps, building maps, and town maps.  Students have been thinking about how maps teach us information and the methods they use to make sure we understand that information. We have been learning the importance of keys, addresses, symbols, labels and more!  We had a great discussion about the spherical nature of planet Earth, even though we usually see maps of our world on a flat surface.  I challenged students to peel a clementine and then create a flat map with the skin.  As we munched on our treat we realized how the Earth connects in a sphere even when the flat map does not show this.  Students were surprised to learn that people did not always know the Earth was round.

We have learned songs (mappy maps is our current favorite!) to help us remember cardinal directions and all the purposes for maps and we have used robots called the Ozobots as well as physical movement to practice our knowledge of directions. We have also done whole class and individual exploration of Google Earth, an online tool which allows you to virtually tour the world via satellite and streets views.

Currently students are creating treasure maps.  These aged looking maps will be creative and will confirm all the great learning we are doing by allowing students to showcase their knowledge of what maps contain as well as their purpose, with the added benefit of being inventive and fun.  I cannot wait to see their creations!

In addition to all of this cool work, the art teacher Mrs. Aucter and I are collaborating on a project in which students will be creating wooden community buildings. Once completed we will be creating a giant 3D model of our Richmond community!

Maps are a great way to learn, but are sometimes an abstract idea and hard to grasp. We have been doing a lot of work to make the maps connect to our understanding, but students could benefit from continued building of these connections.  I encourage you to check out Google Earth at home, sketch a map of a favorite room in your house together, or just look at a map or our town, state, or country (there are always free town maps at local restaurants!)  What do students notice?  What can you use the map for?  Have fun exploring!

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