Getting your bearings is one of the most challenging parts of moving to a new place for kids and adults alike. Maps can help. Study a map of your new city or country before you move. How is the city organized? Find important places like your new home, school, grocery stores, playgrounds, work locations, etc.
Once you arrive, consider making a community map. Community mapping is a development tool designed to familiarize development workers with a site or help local community organizers look at their home in a new way. To see this tool in action in a Bhutanese community, check out this link:
The following is a simple community mapping exercise you can do with your kids:
Community Mapping Exercise
Part One: Observing Your Community
Talk with your child about what a map is and what it tells us. Tell them you will make a map together of your new neighborhood. Suggest that they begin taking note of what is on their way to school while they’re on the bus, in the car, biking, etc. Have them imagine they are looking at their community from a birds eye view. Guiding Questions 1. What are the roads around your school/home? Are there any major intersections near your school/home? 2. Notice the cars and people walking outside, imagine where they are going and what they do to have fun, where they work, eat, sleep etc. 3. Do you see animals, wild or domestic? 4. Do you see any plants or trees on your way to school?
Part Two: Preparing Your Map
Start by drawing or downloading a map of your city. You can either do it by memory, or take a paper with you as you walk/drive the roads around your new home. The more detail the better!
Part Three: Marking Basic Community Characteristics
Once you have your map mark it with places that are of special importance to each member of your family. Distinguish each category on your map by assigning each a unique identifier (color, shape, stickers etc.). For example, Mom’s office might be coded green for Mom. The ice cream shop that Dad likes is coded blue for Dad. My school is red for me.
Part Five: Reflection
Take a look at your map when you reflect on the following questions. How close are each of our special locations to each other? Are there some locations that are special to all of us? How do I travel from one location to the other? Are there options? How long does it take? In which locations to I spend most of my time. Are there other locations not marked on the map that I would like to explore? (I hope so!!)