Showing posts from November, 2013

Our Great Big Map

In this project the children were asked to build a map out of various materials. Up until this point our exploration of maps had been in various 2 dimensional representations and impermanent 3 dimensional structures. Like many of our past themes, mixing these mediums left us with a real and permanent piece of art that displays our construction of knowledge.

The mixed media allowed us to talk about symbols. Each piece of material means something to our map. A building ( bottle cap),  a tree (coffee stirrers),  roads (pipe cleaner),  and train tracks (popsicle sticks) are represented. Knowing these symbols allows us to understand or "read" the map. 

We also got to revisit some of our previous units. The roads are represented by lines that connect. Some chose to contribute by drawing where they live on the map,  and several children even constructed bridges to place over a river.

Everything,  from the materials used to where it hangs in our classroom was decided by those truly …

Exploring maps in 3-D

So far our map exploration has been 2-dimensional. One morning the children started making maps on the floor using blocks and other loose materials. They built roads to places they go in their world. We had a Trader Joe's and a Publix, a Target and a zoo. 
To further our exploration, we took pictures of things on our playground and taped them on wooden blocks. We invited the children to place the blocks where they are on the playground. "Is the big castle in front of or behind the bike track?" "What is next to the gate?" "Which direction does the slide face?"
The next day we revisited our block playground, setting it up on a table in the studio. Some children thought it would be fun to draw a map of our playground using the blocks as reference. It turned out to be a very organic way to see how the real things we see everyday can   turn into the maps that tell us where things are and how to get from one place to another.

Where I Live

With the children's interest in maps peaked, we thought it would be a perfect time to talk about where we live. The globe is a regular part of our classroom, but the kids were amazed that the map on the wall was the globe laid out flat. This discovery was of great interest to the class. Our planet is Earth and on this big ball floating in space we can find our country, our state and our town. The children noticed that you can drive across our country but if you wanted to go across the ocean to Europe you would need an airplane or a boat, "A bridge would have to be too long!" Using our overhead projector we traced the outline of the United States. This type of tracing activity is great for exercising our hand eye coordination and practicing our fine motor skills. We also talked about how all the states are different shapes and sizes, no two are alike! What States have you visited? How many can you name?

Understanding Maps

One day in our free play room we realized the children were playing a game involving Ninjas and maps. The Ninjas were using maps to "find the bad guys". Because we have been exploring connection and movement we saw this as an opportunity to take those concepts to another level. As we already discovered children love things that move; planes, trains and of course cars. We posed the question, "If cars move, where are they going and how do we know how to get there?" Their first maps were simple. We noticed that two different maps were being drawn. Arlo's map showed how to get somewhere, (to the treasure) and Maya's map showed where things are. This led us to a class discussion about maps. We read books depicting the various kinds of maps and waited to see where our new interest in maps might take us.

Pulleys and Pendulums

The children figured out how a pulley system works one morning. The first pulley was a great exercise and example of how we can manipulate movement. Another idea on how we manipulate movement is the "wrecking ball". Above one child holds the wrecking "ball" while another holds the string.  It was a exellent problem solving activity because the children needed to make sure the wrecking ball wasn't too high or too low. They also needed to make sure to "aim". The wrecking ball activity was a great exercise in cause and effect and pendulum painting was a great way to visualize the movement. The swinging of the pendulum faster and slower made drastic lines and drips of paint on the paper. And it was really fun!


Patterns are everywhere all around us. Patterns are found in our daily routines and in nature. Giving children opportunities to master patterning is important because it is the foundation for all mathematical concepts. We set up a provocation with examples of patterns and various loose materials. We also looked for patterns in our classroom and created some of our own.