Want to start your child’s love of travel early? You can teach your preschooler about the world with these three simple methods.
I get it. When I say, “let’s teach our kids about maps,” you yawn.
Yes, I thought so too. But there are so many fun ways that maps can be used, especially with young kids. Think treasure hunts and playing with spaghetti vs. memorizing the compass rose.
Let’s get to it!
Teach Preschoolers with a Backyard Treasure Hunt
When you first start exposing your kids to maps, start with your own neighborhood or backyard.
Draw a map of your backyard or park. Do this with your child so that they can see where you’re placing each map item as well as see the real-life object in your hard.
You do not have to be a wonderful artist to this. My drawing is very rough as you see below. My trees look like clouds.
Then, when your child closes his eyes and counts, hide three items in your yard. These could be anything – pencils, hand sanitizer, pieces of candy. Come back to the map and mark their location with an X.
If this is your child’s first time doing this, you will hunt right along with him. Model your thinking for your kid by saying stuff like,
“Hmm, the X is by a bush here on the map. The bush is by the slide. Hmmm… there’s a bush by that slide. Let’s look over there.”
Once your child starts finding items on his own, you can have him draw his own map and hide items for you.
United States of Spaghetti
An important skill is being able to recognize the shape of countries or continents so that kids can easily identify them on maps.
To start, print out a map of either your home country or state. If you would like the map I used, you can get it here.
Cook a small amount of spaghetti and let it cool.
Have your child trace the outside border of the country with spaghetti. If can’t seem to get this to work, ask them to draw flight paths with spaghetti. My son stretched the pasta from Florida to Arizona to show our recent flight.
If your child LOVES all of this geography, you may want to take it a step further.
The Little Explorers subscription box is fun and encourages kids to become curious about our world. Honestly, I was skeptical that my three-year-old would be into this. We got the Early Explorers subscription for 3-5 year olds.
The first kit came with a cute little suitcase,
Along with stickers and an activity book.
He dove right in. By the end of the night, and with the help of his sister, he could name and point to all 7 world continents. All 7!!
Now, wherever we go somewhere, he asks, “Is that in North America?”
Each month, Max, Mia and their dog Toby go and explore some new aspect of the world.
The second month was all about landmarks. He placed stickers for the Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Taj Majal and Sphinx on his map. These cute little toys of the landmarks came in his package as well.
Every time a new Little Passports arrives, he tears open the package.
I recommend this to all parents of preschoolers. This subscription has completely surpassed my expectation and is so much fun!
Regardless of what activity you choose to do with your kids, the main goal at this age is to make it fun. We want our kids to enjoy learning and get excited. Go get them curious and get excited!