Map Making!

Previously posted on June 2, 2015, at

I often wondered why Geography was never part of my elementary and high school curriculum. We always had to buy the map of the Philippines year after year, but we rarely looked at it. Back then, it was more important to name the countries and their capitals and memorize the provinces of every region in the Philippines.

I introduced Geography in preschool homeschooling. We had a variety of maps (theme park maps, city, regions, country, continents, world), Map puzzles and a globe. We also sang songs about the continents and always maximized learning when we travel.

I hope to tackle this topic in 2 parts. I just can’t jump into sharing with you how we made maps because kids have to see the value in Geography before they can “create or recreate” maps. They need to know the deeper reason of why they are studying this subject. For optimal learning, they need to have a bond with the map they are working on. That only happens when there is more to the map than just lines, grids and boundaries. Maps should be presented with stories, exciting stories. They should introduce people, their culture and way of life.

Oh, we’ve had so much fun tracking the journey of Bible greats like Moses and the Israelites, explorers like Magellan and Christopher Columbus, missionaries such as Gladys Aylward, of vehicles like ship of “Dr. Doolittle”, or the hot air balloon in “Around the World in 80 Days”. We’ve tried to figure out where the Vikings and the first North American settlers passed! One exciting map was from the Metropolitan Museum of New York, which we used alongside a reader entitled, “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”

Tied with their study on Social Studies, the Earth and its Grid, we had this simple activity from a Geography for Kids activity book. It was to me the clearest way to shop how a map and the globe are one and the same, just different representations of the same thing.

Make lines of the Earth’s grid (equator, latitude and longitude) on the outer cover of an orange using a good pentel pen. Using a knife or cutter, cut along the lines of longitude through and through. Cut through just enough to create a crevice on the equator.

So, how did we incorporate Geography and Map making into our lessons?

Sonlight‘s Geography’s Songs Kit and Apologia‘s Around the World in 180 Days.

The Geography Songs kit tunes were catchy, and our kids loved them (though some information in our older version needed to be updated). Kids were truly able to memorize names of countries of the world arranged in continents and regions.

Add to this, we purchased a good world map to display, an atlas that they could hold and read like a book, and a globe to spin around! Through the years, and thankfully, these have gotten worn out and had to be replaced. We also had puzzles of the Philippines, of continents and of the whole world.

As we incorporated read-a-louds (good story or chapter books you read to the children) and their own readers (assigned reading material for the student) and tackled World History twice a week, it became a habit to always imagine the setting of where the story is taking place. We eventually bring out the atlas, maps or globe (now you can do Google Earth/ Maps!) and check. Some readers even provide their own, more specific (street) maps like this one from Oliver Twist.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Ian Andrew, published by DK

Map reading and making became a regular habit for us. I love these kinds of projects because they’re done in stages. This helps older children learn proper planning, patience and perseverance in completing a project. The joy in accomplishing such a project is also unmatched, as seen on the faces in the photo below. I will just share some of the Simpao Homeschool maps through the years and, in a future post, I will specifically take you through the steps on how to do them too 🙂 Hope this excites you to watch out for Part 2.

“Go,” the LORD said to me, “and lead the people on their way, so that they may enter and possess the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” NIV

Deuteronomy 10:11

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