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Putting your town on the map

Give your little one the bigger picture by mapping out a kid-friendly landscape.

By Valle Dwight

A young child’s world is usually pretty small, bounded by familiar places such as home, the grocery store, the park, and the library. But once he or she heads off to school, that world suddenly gets a whole lot bigger. Kindergarten is a great year to expand your child's horizons — one kid-centric landmark at a time.

The project: A homemade map of your hometown

Get ready: Start big, work your way down

  • Start out by showing your child a map of the United States, pointing out your state.
  • Talk about distinctive features of your state — does it border the ocean, a mountain range, or another state he knows?
  • Find a map of your state and point out your town. Again, talk about any distinctive features and its location. 

Make it happen: Map time!

Now you're ready to create a kid-friendly map of your hometown where the landmarks that mark your child's world are front and center.

Depending on how large your map will be, you might want to tape together several pieces of construction paper. Starting with your street, draw the length of the road, then either draw a picture of your house (have your child do this) or paste on a photo of it. Have your child draw other houses on the street that he knows.

Now find his new school, and place that in perspective on the map. Again, either draw it or paste on a photo. If the school is nearby, put in the connecting streets, but if it’s far away, try to simplify the map by drawing a few major connecting roads. Think of other parts of town he knows well — the playground, friends’ homes, his old preschool — and place them on the map.

Once your map is complete, hang it on the wall where your child can see it regularly. Any time you go out, point out your destination on the map. This will help him develop a sense of direction — and a little bit of control over his world.

Valle Dwight is a reporter, writer, and mother of two school-aged boys. She has written for many magazines, including FamilyFun, Wondertime, and Working Mother.

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