Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mapping Skills Should Not Be Learned at a Truckstop

Last fall, my youngest son started a new history program called, "Paths of Exploration" by GeoMatters. It is the first book in a series called Trail Guide to Learning.

Normally, this would be the time where I would say we burned out, Matty got overwhelmed, we didn't have enough time to do everything, or the curriculum became tiresome.


But normal is overrated.

We are still head over heels for this history series! Today, Matty and I snuggled up on my bed to read "A Lion to Guard Us" and "Surviving Jamestown". My unusually squirmy son was so still that I kept having to check to see if he was still awake. He was not only mesmerized by the stories, but was very disappointed that we couldn't read the books until the end.

When we finished our reading for the day, it was time to do a mapping project. This is something that I haven't done a lot of with Matt because his fine motor skills leave a lot to be desired. Typically, his maps end up looking like Swiss cheese from all of the erasing he does trying to fit all of the labeling into the proper places. Even the ocean sizes never seem to be large enough to include the word ocean.

Mapping is an important skill. It is a skill that will be used throughout one's lifetime. Not being able to read a map could get one in trouble later on in life. For example, let's just pretend that a newlywed couple is on their way to a rattlesnake hunt. They leave from their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is on the eastern side of the state, and are supposed to head southwest to Waurika, Oklahoma, which is only barely still in Oklahoma. They travel at night since traffic will be light. The husband is the driver; the wife, his navigator.

If the wife has never given a single glance at a map, not one time in her entire 19 years of life, navigator is probably not the job for her.

Let's just say, for kicks, that the newlywed couple, after driving for what seemed like hours, come upon a sign that reads~


This is when map skills would've come in handy.

A referee would've been nice too.

(And for those who can't remember exactly where Arkansas is, well, it ain't west.)
Disclaimer: Any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

Just sayin'.

Because I love my son and don't want him to end up at some truck stop on the state lines of a state he had no intention of visiting in the middle of the night, I'm going to have to make sure he knows how to read a map.

Here's what we did today.

Using a map in the textbook, I placed a transparency sheet (for overhead projectors) over the map.

Then I used masking tape to tape the sheet to the top and bottom of the book.

It's important to use masking tape for easier removal.

Then with the wet erase pens, Matt traced the map.

You know the saying, "Hindsight is 20-20?"

Matthew actually tried to do the labeling himself, but because I hadn't thought to enlarge the map on our copy machine (the best homeschool tool available!), he ended up frustrated. Up until that point however, he was thoroughly enjoying himself, so tomorrow we'll do the same map again, but bigger.

Sometimes bigger is better.

* This method doesn't have to be used with any specific curriculum. It would be a great homemade program with just a children's atlas.

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