Welcome to the Adventure Moves Blog!

December 6th, 2018


Welcome to Adventure Moves, your home for moving adventures!

Moving is difficult. No two ways about it. And moving with kids can be two steps short of dreadful. You need to manage your own stress, check off items on a to-do list that grows even faster than your laundry pile, say goodbye to friends and family, and somehow guide your children through their own fears and uncertainties. It is a herculean task. (Worse even. Hercules just had to clean out a stable—you’ve got to sort closets, basements, attics, cupboards, and crawlspaces while keeping the crayons accessible!)

We can’t help you pack your boxes, but we can offer up a few ideas to make the move a bit more fun.

Today we’d like to talk about MAPMAKING. Not the sort you did in elementary school with a compass and a faded world map on your desk. Our focus for this post is on Community Mapmaking. Making a map of a community encourages kids to explore and interact with their new environment in a meaningful way. It also helps your young explorers develop their spatial thinking which will, in turn, give them the tools they need to comprehend and analyze phenomena related to the spaces and places around them.

There are many ways to make maps, and kids of any age can enjoy figuring out how to represent their space in terms of pictures. We have divided the following 4 activities into age groups for your convenience. Good luck, and get mapping! 


Grades Prek-2

Mapping Storybooks

Before your little one jumps into real-life mapping, get them warmed up with an indoor mapping activity. 

What you’ll need:



-a marker, pen, or cutout of the characters in the story

-a book where the characters move between physical locations. Make Way for Ducklings, or Going on a Bear Hunt are great examples.


1.     Read the story to your children. Have them determine the relative locations of landmarks on the map, using the language of location such as next to, up, down, right, left, across, between, toward, away, near, and far. Help them describe what they see in the illustrations. For Make Way for Ducklings they could describe the island is in the lake, in the Public Gardens, near a bridge; the swan in the boat is behind the people on the benches; benches are around the trees; and so on. Focus on the words the author uses to show the ducks’ movement over and through the city.

2.     Have your children draw a map of what they remember. Let them look at the book and help them remember the steps the characters took.

3.     When they are finished with their map, read the story again. Let your children follow the character’s path on their maps with a pen, or a cut-out of the character.


Mapping a Playground

What you’ll need:





1.     Talk about symbols. At the start of the activity ask your children about a favorite park. Ask: What types of things are in the park? Tell them to draw one of the pieces of play equipment where they like to play. Next ask your child if these are the real pieces of equipment. Then explain that we call these drawings of things that are in the real-world symbols. It is important that your child ground this activity in their real world. They will more easily then make the transition to the map activity.

2.     Go to a new park.

3.     Explain cardinal directions. Tell them that another way to talk about where things are is to use the cardinal directions north, south, east, and west. Ask your child to imagine taking a walk in this park. Point at the swing and ask your child to start here. Explain that if you walk in the direction of the north arrow, you would be walking north. If you turn left and walk in the direction of the west arrow, you would walk west, and so on. Ask questions using cardinal directions: What is south of the slide? (the seesaw) What is east of the swing? (a tree) Is the slide on the east or west side of the park? (west) Is the fountain east or west of the slide? (west)

4.     Make a map of your new playground. Have your child create a map with a key on drawing paper. Have them use at least three symbols in the map key and on the map. Have them use crayons or colored pencils for coloring. Help them to add arrows for the cardinal directions. 


Grades 3-5

Making and Analyzing a Community Map

Ideally, this activity will take place over the course of three days. It is a wonderful way for older children to get a handle on their new surroundings.


1. Have your child sketch their new home or school and the area around it from memory. Have them include the streets, buildings, and other sites they can think of that surround their home/school.

2. Walk the neighborhood and revise sketches. Next, go outside for a walk to see how accurate their sketched maps and ideas were. Give them an opportunity to carry their sketched maps on a clipboard and add to or change their maps based on what they see.


1. View a map of the larger area surrounding their home/school. Ask them to trace the route traveled around the neighborhood on day 1.

2. Plot home and school locations on a large map. Have your child use markers or colored pencils to plot their home and school locations on their printed maps. Have them plot the route they take from home to school.

3. Analyze the spatial arrangement of your new community. Younger kids can use the language of location such as near, far, and next to; older kids can include cardinal directions.


1. Investigate other neighborhood service locations. Choose one or two other neighborhood public service buildings, such as a library, bank, police station, hospital, or fire station, to study. Plot the building’s location on the printed maps, and determine what types of buildings surround your new home.

2. Summarize ideas about locations of services. Have your child draw pictures of each site studied. Have them write two or three sentences below each picture, describing where the site is located and giving reasons for the location of each service. 


Make a Map of Your State

It can be helpful for children, when moving states, to understand their new home in a broader context. It can also give them adventures to look forward to as you explore your wider environment as a family.

What you’ll need:

-paper and pens

-a map of your new state

-print or digital resources about your state for research purposes


1. Find a large outline map of your state or district.

2. Have a discussion about tourism maps and what information might be most useful. Talk about the kinds of information that could be included on a state tourism map. Talk about how anything that exists in the world can be mapped, and how mapmakers always have a purpose for creating a map.  

3. Have your child research specific features of your state or district’s history. Give your child atlases, your state government’s tourism information, National Geographic’s travel website, and other online resources to research your state or district.

4. Choose symbols for each feature. Determine symbols and colors you can use to represent different information, for example, gold stars for capital cities, gray triangles for mountains, and blue markers to delineate rivers on the map. Help them create a map legend.

5. Draw your state map. Make a list as a family of places you would like to go visit, and make a concrete plan to visit at least one of them.

Activities adapted from National Geographic’s Map Skills for Elementary Students. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/map-skills-elementary-students/

katie mastin