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ERIC Number: EJ1041783
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1056-0300
Mapping Their Place: Preschoolers Explore Space, Place, and Literacy
Fantozzi, Victoria B.; Cottino, Elizabeth; Gennarelli, Cindy
Social Studies and the Young Learner, v26 n1 p5-10 Sep 2013
While maps and globes continue to be an important part of the geography and social studies curricula, there has been some debate about the ability of young children to engage in maps in a meaningful way. Some researchers have argued that children younger than seven do not have the spatial-cognitive abilities to truly understand the perspective and scale differences in a map. In other words, they argue that young children are not able to interpret maps because the "bird's-eye view" perspective that a map gives is too abstract and dissimilar to the concrete objects with which young children are familiar. Other researchers, however, reject the notion that maps are too abstract, arguing that it is common for young children to make maps, and is something in which children across cultures take part. Other researchers have demonstrated that children as young as three are able to use maps to solve problems and that 4 and five-year-olds can interpret aerial photos, a skill important in understanding the perspective of maps. Furthermore, a recent multinational study found that children as young as five were able to create simple topographical maps of their journey from home to school. Based on these studies and their own experience working with young children, the authors of this article believe that young children are capable of making meaning of maps and, perhaps more important, have the natural inclination and curiosity to want to explore their world through many different media. Further, research on middle school-aged students indicates that map-making strongly benefits their understanding of maps and geographic concepts. It may be that creating maps with children at a young age will help build a foundation for stronger geographic understanding in the future. This topic of study presents opportunities to practice non-standard measuring as students try to figure out the distance between buildings on the map. This article describes a project in which students in one class counted the number of steps from the classroom to the student center to get an idea of distance. Creating maps also allows students to practice emergent literacy skills, such as building print awareness, and practicing early writing skills as they label parts of the map. Finally, students are developing their fine motor skills as they create the representations of places and objects on their map. Although the authors believe this project would be possible to enact in any classroom, they write that this project was influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach that inspired the teachers at this school.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Preschool Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A