Geographical Mapping🗺

In our lecture today we learnt about using maps with children and how it develops new skills and knowledge of their local and global surroundings.

You should use maps with children as maps are a way of communicating information about a specific place, they give children the support to interact with an environment they can not physically access, they show the spatial layout, distribution and pattern of geographical features and we can use maps to navigate around our landscapes.

Having a knowledge about location is essential for children in setting themselves and their geographical studies in local and global contexts. It is important that children know where features, places and events occur and how they connect spatially to one another when learning about geography (Catling, 2017).

Mapping skills that a child will learn include:

  • Perspective
  • Representation
  • Scale
  • Direction
  • Location

Mapping skills are learned best when put in a meaningful context.

Map keys are an aspect of mapping that children will need to understand. These keys can give, for example, symbol representations, colour codes and line meanings. Getting children to investigate and make their own keys for their own maps is a good way of practicing and learning this aspect.

Scales are another aspect of mapping. Maps are not always draw to scale but they should have a scale at the side to tell you otherwise. Most maps are small scaled to fit the earths landscape on them.

Developing a perspective form above is key as most maps are formatted so that you are looking down from space on the landscape. Children are used to seeing 3D landscapes from their POV.

  • Google Earth is a great resource for demonstrating this.

There are so many more sources of maps, these include:

  • Picture maps
  • Street maps
  • Road atlases
  • Ordnance Survey maps
  • Architect’s plans
  • Sketch maps
  • Shopping centre plans
  • Atlas maps
  • National and continental wall maps
  • Thematic maps
  • Globes
  • Historical maps
  • Postcard maps
  • Tourist fold-out and brochure maps
  • Bus and railway maps
  • Shipping charts
  • Maps in newspapers and on websites
  • Maps in board and virtual games

Interaction with maps

Creating maps.

  • Fictional books
  • Develops understanding of place in a story

Representing landscapes through maps.

  • Relating to real situations and needs
  • Make connections to journeys
  • Focus on land use, pattern and texture in the landscape and then how this is represented on a map
  • Work in this area supports children to access OS maps

Representing landscapes through models (3D)

Activities for learning

  •  How can I help a visitor find my classroom?
  •  Treasure hunt around school (use school plan with numbered locations)
  •  Use O.S. Maps to describe my local area
  •  Model a plan of the classroom or school
  •  Picture maps of stories (Gruffalo, Little Red Riding Hood, Katie Morag)
  •  How do I get to school – draw a route map
  •  Where does our food come from?
  •  Create symbols for a school plan
  •  Landmark spotting
  •  How far is it? – fetch an object from the furthest away point in the room, put a pencil in the middle of the room
  • Journeys in the school building – the shortest ways, the longest ways – draw the routes on a school plan
  • Scale drawing of the classroom
  • Compare different maps of the same area
  • Record routes, use directional language, Beebotgrids of familiar areas
  • World map – where in the world have the class been, mark countries with a pin/spot/sticky note
  • Plan walks around the school grounds, colour code them

(Bridge, 2010).



Catling, S. (2017)  ‘Mental Maps Learning about places around the world’, in Scoffham, S (ed.) Teaching Geography Creatively. 2nded. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 58-75.
Bridge, C. (2010) ‘Mapwork Skills’, in Scoffham, S (ed.) Primary Geography Handbook.Rev,edn. Sheffield: Geographical Association.

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