Every time we visit the zoo or aquarium, Carter gets to hold the map. It’s never too early to teach children spatial awareness and using real life experiences engages them and increases their ability to understand the concept of what a map is and how it enhances our ability to get to a specific location.
The great thing about the zoo map is that it has pictures of the animals, so for toddlers you could simply get them to point and say the name of the animal they would like to see and as you are walking to it, you verbalize the learning. E.g We are walking straight ahead to the lions, lets check the signs-we need to turn left at the bridge etc.
Primary aged children:
As the child’s capabilities increase, so does the learning. You could start by pointing to the direction you need to go to and getting them to say if it is left or right and then build upon it by asking them to choose an animal and be the tour guide, taking you to each animal.
By giving the child the map and letting them take control it allows them to take ownership and develops their confidence about navigating the world around them.
Follow up activities:
- Design a map for your own zoo. (You could give them the freedom to include anything they want or you could tell them there needs to be 1 cafe, 2 toilets etc. You could discuss placement of the toilets-why they need to be in different sections of the zoo- and by doing so, incorporate some logical design thinking into the activity as well!)
- Keep the map and get it out at home, discussing what you saw with your child, the directions the different animals were in-get them using appropriate location vocabulary to increase their oral language skills. They are taught this in primary school so give them a head start and use it as part of your everyday language.