Using Maps With Picture BooksTicia Messing
As part of our homeschool geography, my kids and I have been doing state and country studies using picture books. I’ve written before how much I love picture books for older kids, and it’s reaffirmed each week that we continue our studies as my children get peeks into different cultures through the illustrations and the story of the books.
Then during our study of Alaska, I realized how wonderfully maps can work with picture books to reinforce learning. I had found a wonderful picture book that took you on a tour of the state. So I headed to my computer, opened up (affiliate) Wonder Maps, and printed off a picture of Alaska.
We used maps to emphasize where events happened in the story
As I read, the kids found the relevant spot on their map and drew a picture to help remember the event happening there. Eventually our maps were all filled up with wonderful pictures and drawings to help us remember about Alaska.
Then I grabbed the next book in our pile of picture books which told us about the migration patterns of a native Alaskan bird. Back to my computer I headed to print out a world map. As a bit of happy serendipity, the edges of the map overlapped slightly, so I was able to fold the map into thirds and we could see just how the birds migrated from Alaska to New Zealand every year.
The maps became a learning tool supporting our literature study
This experience started me thinking of other ways we could incorporate maps into our picture book studies. Our next unit is France, and I found a marvelous book modeled after the Tour de France. Thus we are printing off a map of France and following the journey.
Sometimes you can even be lucky enough to find maps specific to a book. When we studied Massachusetts, I found a map someone had drawn for Make Way for Ducklings, and that became an excellent activity on cardinal directions.
And of course there are maps of fictional worlds. You can buy entire map books for The Lord of the Rings, and every single one of the Wizard of Oz books in the 14 book series comes with a map. I still love poring over those maps of Oz to find where the story is happening.
So next time you’re snuggling up with your child with that wonderful picture book, take a moment to consider adding a map to the lesson.