This month, let’s talk about what it means to be an explorer. Let’s think about what it takes to leave everything behind to travel to an entirely new place, especially when you’re not sure what will happen on the way or what awaits you when you arrive. Let’s also give some thought to how we’ll know when we get there!
The first thing we’ll need is a map and a destination.
The Pre-K Crowd: A few weeks ago we did a scavenger hunt with these little guys. For that exercise, we used pictures or shapes they matched to the picture or shape at each stop along their route. When they successfully completed their quest, they found a prize. This week, let’s make an actual map for our young explorers. We can still have a prize at the end–what’s the Pre-K life without a treat every now and then–but rather than match things to other things along the way, let’s have them follow a line we’ve drawn that will take them from Point A to Point B. If you life on a quiet street, you can take pictures of the houses along the way and make a map of your street that actually looks like your street. As you and your child make your way along the route, you can point out the ways the things along the way match the things on the map. Not a quiet street? Find a quiet place or make a map of one floor of your house. The important part is to follow a route. If all else fails, cut some paper footprints and lay them in a path around the rooms in your house. Draw a map with footprints and show your child how the footprints on the floor match the ones on the map. Since the weather is growing cooler, maybe a cocoa party is in order when you reach your destination.
Grades K-1: Kids this age are able to help draw a map. They are also able to brainstorm a destination. It could be a map to the ice cream section of the supermarket or the toy box in the playroom. The important thing is for them to be involved in helping you with the map. It’s important because it’s another way of reinforcing the idea that some things happen in an order that matters. You can’t draw the thing that comes first after the thing that comes next. If you do, the map won’t work. It’s also another way to reinforce the idea that not all details are created equal. The individual couch cushions are not as important as the couch. Each chair at the table doesn’t need to be drawn with meticulous detail, either. The map is a guide and for this type of guide, the things that quickly identify where you need to be are the things that count. When the map is done, set it aside for next week.
Grade 2: Set your second grader the task of creating a map of one room a starting point. You can help him/her out by folding the paper in quarters and showing the way the paper is a smaller version of the room. This is harder than it looks, especially if your child is like me and can’t draw worth anything, so be patient and kind. If it’s really a no go, try cutting out pieces of furniture from pictures and letting him/her glue them onto the paper. Once the room is done, give it a rest. If he/she is interested in drawing a map of the first floor of the house, give supply another piece of paper and ask if your child wants you to help draw the rooms and hallways. If the answer is “no,” that’s fine. If the answer is “yes,” do that and then back away. See what your child comes up with from there. Explain that the map is the first step in an exploration so it’s important to make it neat enough to use. When it’s done. set it aside for next week.
Grades 3-5: The big kids likely have some map experience. For them, the map is not as important as thinking about where they might like to explore and what they might have thought they would encounter along the way if they were the first ones they knew who had ever traveled there. What would they take? How would they get there? What time of year would they travel? What route would they take? Have them plan it out, then draw a rough map of where they’re going. And, by the way, they could be going into space, to the ocean floor, or across the continent of Antarctica. The important thing is to get them thinking like an explorer. Once they have their plans written down, set them aside for next week.