For a long time now, I’ve realized that Maddy, Owen, and Cora have no idea where they live.
Sure, they get that they live in Maryland and their Nanny and Pap and most aunts and uncles live in Pennsylvania, but they don’t really know where they live in relation to the rest of the world.
Cora sees the American flag and calls it the American Idol flag.
I know she’s four and that this knowledge and perspective is something that comes with time–and maturity–but I thought that it was about time we addressed the issue head-on.
In order to really understand even why our country has different types of coins (and governments) than other countries–like we discussed when we wrapped and counted coins earlier this week–they have to first learn that they live in the United States of America–a place quite different from the United Kingdom where William and Kate got married this spring, or Japan where Cars 2 took place, or Italy where their Grandma and Grandpa visited this year.
Younger kids sometimes get confused when we tell them they live on a continent, in a country, in a state, in a city.
How can they live in so many places at once?
Believe me, I know there are tons of ways to do this, but I thought I’d give it a try with a Me on the Map activity I saw on Jenn from Finally in First’s awesome blog a few months ago. Among other things, I liked how this activity brought everything together, from planet to home, in one bright and happy package.
How to Teach Kids Where in the World They Live:
This Me on the Map activity spotlights where kids live from big picture to small–their planet to their home (or school). It allows them to hold in their hands all of the places they can call ‘home’ which is why I really love it.
I created circles for each part which can be downloaded here.
And for our friends in Canada: Me on the Map: Canada version is a part of the Me on the Map Circles. Feel free to download, share with our friends up north, and watch our Canadian little ones learn about their place in this big world!
Owen helped cut out the circles at swim this week when he couldn’t go in the water.
The circles include:
- our planet;
- our continent;
- our country;
- our state;
- our city;
- our street;
- our home (or school)
I also added some links to resources I used to print out an earth for the planet circle, a map of the continents, the USA map, the state of Maryland map, our state flower and flag, and our city.
As cool as it would be to have kids do the research to find this information and to really work hard to draw pictures of each part, I know it’s the summer. And my focus was simply to give Maddy, Owen, and Cora a more clear picture about where they live in relation to the rest of the world.
Cora colors North America–the continent where we live.
To get this party started, I said,
Okay my friends. This week we organized coins and found a lot of coins that belonged to other countries. I have no idea how they got in our coin jar, but they did. They obviously got really mixed up–somehow they made it from their countries all the way over to our country, the United States of America.
Today we’re going to take a look at where we are–where we live compared to other places in the world–and all of the places we can call our home.
Because you know we live in Maryland. You know that Nanny and Pap live in Pennsylvania. And you probably know we live [on our street, in our city]. But it gets confusing to live in so many places at once.
This is going to make where we live a little bit more clear, but I’m really going to need your help because there are a few steps to this. I know you can handle it. Ready?
I had organized all of the circles by size, and I placed the ‘extras’ above them.
I said, First we’ll start with our planet. We don’t live on Mars, and we don’t live on Jupiter. We live on. ..
Earth!! Owen and Maddy yelled.
Yep. We live on good ole planet Earth. So glue your earth on the circle that says ‘our planet’ and write ‘Earth’ above it.
Our Me on the Map circles, all spread out and drying.
We did the same for each circle, and as we went, I wrote the name on a piece of paper so they could copy it.
Really, Maddy was not feeling this activity. She was totally not into it. So I let her do what she was up for without pushing her. She wanted to do her sketching, and that’s totally fine with me.
She scribbled the words and glued quickly and didn’t care a bit.
Owen was into it; he worked hard to write each word, and he placed his circles carefully on the table to dry.
I found I had a really hard time keeping up with Owen and being slow enough for Cora, but when I finally just let Owen zip ahead while I stayed along with Cora, and I wasn’t worrying about Maddy, it was fine. Maddy actually came back to it the next morning, when she was more in the mood. I love it.
I took photos before we added our street and home–so that our location’s not plastered in cyberspace–but the kids drew cute pictures of our house and their perception of our street.
Cora holds her ‘Me on a Map’ proudly. . . and now that the picture’s taken, we can add our street and home.
We linked them all together with a circle clip, and we were ready to go. Now finally Maddy, Owen, and Cora will be able to tell anyone who asks where in the world we live. I totally love it.
I wanted the kids to be excited about doing this without dreading the work, and I think this did the job. It gave them enough to do to be invested but not too much so that they thought it was work. . .
And check out these other fun activities for kids: