She can fly to the Space Station in a cardboard box, and he can play in the Super Bowl in his own backyard. Let children match their traveling imaginations with a map, and they develop their own worldview without ever leaving the house. Here are five ways that kids and maps make magic together.
1. It’s fun to understand what’s around the corner
Kids know which street they live on and the name of their hometown. Spreading a city map on the table lets them see the size of their neighborhood. Children enjoy knowing that they’re part of the larger picture. The street map gives them a sense of place and community. The kids will have a brand new outlook on their next trip to the grocery store or across town.
2. Kids love knowing where everybody else lives
Visiting with grandparents means driving to a different city, and sometimes, older siblings live in another state. Talking on the phone or chatting on the computer keeps families connected, but pinpointing everybody’s place on a map gives kids a sense of connection with faraway loved ones. Showing a child exactly where mom or dad is stationed overseas turns a world map into a source of comfort. Kids’ hearts and imaginations can travel anywhere.
3. Where exactly are the lions and tigers and bears?
Give a child a map, and his visions of the jungle fill in the borders of India. Show her where the kangaroos live, and she’ll understand the Australian Outback. Kids can flip through the pages of a travel atlas and connect exciting things with real places. Desk globes or world maps on the wall become windows that let children picture other countries and visit different cultures.
4. Maps take kids on magic carpet rides
Kids grow up with fairy tales; learning that those imaginary places are real builds bridges to understanding the real world. The Little Mermaid lived under the sea, but which one? Finding Nemo means exploring maps of real oceans. When a child locates France and then Paris on the map, he knows where Ratatouille became a chef. Maps let kids fly away on exciting adventures to real locations.
5. Even old maps tell wonderful stories
Learning the history of ancient Egypt or the Aztec empire fascinates a child. Looking at a map of the Old World gives him a sense of those very real places from that faraway time. Antique map art framed prints hanging over his desk let a kid look up from his books and see the world as it used to be. Children understand that everything changes, from their neighborhoods to entire civilizations.
A kid’s view of the world isn’t limited to the neighborhood or driving around town. It’s never confined to paper printed with state lines or international borders. When children match the power of their vision with a travel map, their world becomes the wide, wonderful place that we all want it to be.
About the author
Ann Bailey is an art teacher and world traveler and contributes this encouragement to enjoy the intrigue of maps for the online art framed printsÂ company, Artismo (dot) com. Offering many antique maps and multiple matte and frame options, the company is a valuable resource for home and classroom decorators.