We’ve done a lot of experimenting this year as we’ve launched our first year of classical curriculum. I knew that would be the case, which has helped me to keep an open mind when things haven’t gone as well as I had hoped. Map work is one of those areas where we’ve done a lot of experimenting, trying to find the best method for learning our maps.
I love map work. It is a definite kinesthetic activity to add to a history study, and there are lots of different ways to explore them. I know, because I’ve tried several.
First, I made labels for the kids to stick to the maps as we learned the different areas. That worked okay, but I wasn’t thrilled. It was hard to review everyday, and they only got to put the stickers on once a week (not to mention it took a lot of label making).
Then, I put the map for the week in a page protector and had Oldest trace it each day with a dry-erase marker. He enjoyed that, but I wasn’t convinced that he was really learning all that I wanted him to learn. And it did demand a little bit of fine motor skills.
So we’re on our third attempt. And right now, I’m thrilled with it. I keep the answer key map in a page protector in his assignment notebook for him to review (we also review together during our read-aloud time). Then, I have a blank version of the map magnetized to the side of our file cabinet. I made “labels” (strips of an index card with a piece of adhesive magnet tape on the back) for him to stick to the map as he reviews.
Each day, I have assigned three or four new magnet labels for him to find on his map and label on the blank map. He adds his new magnets and reviews the old magnets each day. The activity is pretty independent, as he has the answers in his notebook. He has to find the sea or the city or the island name, etc., on his own. Of course, he loves to show me his work, and I review with him once he’s found the places.
It’s an activity that he is enjoying doing over and over again. After all, what kid doesn’t like to play with magnets. He’s really learning these locations from all the review. And though it takes a little more time for me to prep at the beginning of each week, it doesn’t take as much one-on-one during the week.
I also am going to be more selective with my maps and try to select maps that build a broader view each week, rather than skipping around the region. That way, I can reuse and review the magnets that I have made, and Oldest will get a better view of where his maps fit in with the big picture.
So far, it’s been a big win all around.