Why Me On The Map?
The “Me on the Map” activity is perfect for teaching several of my state’s social studies standards. In kindergarten in Massachusetts, students should be exposed to different kinds of maps and globes. Students should also be able to identify the elements of a physical address, including the street name, number, city, state, and country. In order to really understand their own address, and not just memorize it, they have to understand how their home fits into the larger communities – that their home is part of a street and a street is part of a city, which is part of a state, etc. They don’t just belong to their neighborhood community, but they also belong to the community of our country and of the world, and students need to see how these communities build off of each other.
This lesson is best accompanied with the book Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney. The book follows a girl from her individual self and zooms out into her room, her house, her street, her state, her country, and her world – just like this project does! It is a great introduction to maps and how are different communities are connected.
There are many other great books for teaching about communities and maps. Three other books that I have used are Where Do I Live? by Neil Chesanow; Follow That Map: A First Book of Mapping Skills (Exploring Our Community) by Scot Ritchie; and Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy.
Me on the Map Activity
Students cut out concentric circles and draw, color and/or write information about each new community area. When they are finished, the teacher should gather all the pages in size order at the top and hole punch and use brass fasteners to connect all the pieces. Then the students can easily move the circles to see all the different layers to their address and their communities!
Tips for Keeping the Maps Organized
This project can be difficult for students to complete independently and correctly, unless teachers support their students in staying organized.
1. It is important to print the different circles on different colored papers so that each layer can stand out. The product is designed so that each layer is printed on a different page and therefore, a different color. This will help with the final appearance but also to keep track of what circles they have completed and what they still need to do.
2. Teachers should offer a planning sheet for their students. I have found that students are much more independent if I write d own their information ahead of time. Not all students know the name of their street or how to spell it, so writing that information down for them will save everyone time and energy! The planning sheet will also help them to keep track of the layers to this project and make sure they have completed all of them. Students can check off each circle after they have completed it.
3. Have a place in the room where you can lay out all the papers in order for students to access. Could you give them all the papers to start? Yeah, you could. However, I find that if I do that, some papers get misplaced and finished circles go missing under all those papers. It’s 8 papers that the students are working on – so imagine 8 different papers spread out on tables with all the students working on the same papers? It could be chaotic- that’s what I’ve found anyways. So instead, I arrange the papers on the floor and instruct the students to start with the smaller circles and work their way up. They do one circle at a time, recycle the scraps, and the get the next page. It keeps the tables clean and leaves a lot more space to work!
4. Finished circles will go missing! So how you can you help? Have students write their name or initials on the back of all of their circles once they have cut them out. This helped me save a bunch of missing circles that fell to the ground!
5. Leave a lot of time to complete this project. It will take longer than you think for everyone to finish – and that is ok! With the organizational tips above, it will be easy to do over a couple of days! I have my students keep their circles they have finished in their unfinished boxes and then take the papers they haven’t finished and put in their unfinished boxes as well, that way they don’t lose their spot.
This activity is perfect for teaching and introducing students to geography and maps. Students will learn how all of their communities are connected and grow into larger communities. I hope that all my tips will help the activity be even more successful with your students! If you try this activity with your students, leave a comment and let me know how it goes! Looking for a great extension to this activity? Consider making your dramatic play into an “Explore Your World” center and encourage students to travel to different communities!