Trick-or-Treat Cartographer

My three-year old daughter Nora likes to pretend she is a cowgirl, and she has actually said, “Every cowgirl needs a map!” Thanks to Diego and Dora the Explorer, maps are now an awesome accessory that every kid needs in their rescue pack. When I was in the fourth grade I made a map of my neighborhood with my friend Megan so we could feel really official and cool about our trick-or-treating plan. Megan and I highlighted the highest-income streets with a different color, because that is where you would possibly get full-sized candy bars, but you had to walk up a hill to get there.  Our map’s purpose was to maximize our trick-or-treating efforts. Doing this with your child could actually be a great opportunity to show them all the things that maps can do! A custom trick-or-treat map of your neighborhood or town could demonstrate to your child that maps do not only show roads, but also physical landscape features, population destiny/change, borders/boundaries, economic information, natural resources, and other geographical information. It might be interesting to discuss what information would be most useful to show on a map for trick-or-treating.

As for my little Nora, her map may not be so complicated.  My goal will be that she understands that the street on the map is the street where she is walking and to recognize when she has come to an intersection. I think she can do this, and I think it will be fun for her.  Including a few physical landscape features, like a recognizable tree might also be doable for her.  I wish you all happy, safe and directionally sound trick-or-treating!


One thought on “Trick-or-Treat Cartographer

  1. Ambitious but a great idea! One year my teaching partners and I wrote a small grant from the PTA and we had Geography as our topic. Every kid could make their own bedroom map and we also made a map of an animal—-dog or cat; we bought a blow-up plastic world to hang in our classroom and had a map-printed shower curtain on the wall; for “show and tell” each child of the Star of the Week could have their parent come to show/tell us about someplace in the world lthe family had been or had a special connection to—it was a lot of work but I really think kids are shortchanged now regarding geography. Besides drawing the map (bedroom, etc.) it was important to LABEL the parts since labels are frequently the environmental reading they learn to do first—-recognizing a STOP sign, for instance, as well as McDonald’s Golden Arches, their own name on a paper they’ve drawn on, the name of their favorite snack written on the package or grocery store sign, etc.

    This labeling is the foundation for understanding what a Main Idea is and that descriptors of the Label give us more information. There is a terrific way to do this when kids are a little older but still “non-readers.”.

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