Reading a Place

I have always found it interesting how often I am asked for directions. Maybe I look like someone who knows where they are going, or maybe I look especially non-threatening, but whatever the case I find myself pointing down the road, explaining the turns to take, and describing the buildings they will see on the way.

It goes without saying that children need to learn how to get from one place to another, and one way you can do that is by drawing a map with them and following it together. This can be a wonderful way to introduce them to their community or learn what is important to them in your neighbourhood.  All the while you will be practicing a wide range of skills, including:

  • recognizing environmental print (like street signs)
  • drawing or describing what we see (size, shapes, colours, symbols)
  • measuring or describing distances
  • imagining how other people see the world (we notice different things)
  • imagining a different visual perspective (maps often take a bird’s eye view)
  • following directions in order (start with a few steps, they will be able to handle more and more with practice as they get older)
  • reading and writing (directions or labels on a map)
  • listening (to directions, or you could even include sounds in your map)

I find it fascinating how many different ways you can explain how to get from one place to another, and how much someone’s directions can tell you about how they see the world.  Consider how much of the world an 8-year old can explore on their own and how that has changed since you were that age, or when your grandparents were that age. There is an interesting article that explores that here: The Great Indoors, or Childhood’s End?

If you cringed or laughed when I mentioned describing buildings to people who are lost, you might enjoy this: The Irrelevant Show: Stuart McLean Gives Directions

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