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#227027 - 07/01/11 12:05 PM Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
We're going out for some family hikes this weekend and thought it would a good opportunity to teach some map and compass skills to 8-yo DS. He's learning about the compass rose, and though he doesn't always know what direction he's facing when we ask him, once we tell him, he's pretty good at knowing what way we're heading as we change course. He's played with compasses a little and he knows what the North arrow means.

He's also done some activities around getting Red Fred into his shed, and how to follow a bearing, but it hasn't at all sunk in. We thought we'd practice that today. Find a destination to hike to, take a bearing, follow it and then reverse it to find our way back to the car.

We don't usually take a map with us in this area because it's REALLY simple (Major, well-marked trails that are basically two big over-lapping loops) and start and finish within paved, well-visited civilization. It seems like the perfect place for working on basic map skills. He's started to learn how to follow maps and he's also made rudimentary maps in school. These activities have basically involved identifying roads and major landmarks, and tracking direction of travel.

He has yet to put map and compass together.

Any tips?
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#227035 - 07/01/11 02:49 PM Re: Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills [Re: bacpacjac]
LesSnyder Offline
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Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1546
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
when I introduced vectors to my students, did so with air/sea navigation which is a little down the road for your son.. a 360 degree circular protractor rather than the typical school supply half circular ones seemed to help students visualize the relationships between compass NSEW headings, and degrees of rotation 0-360 a little better ...I set up a simple land navigation lab teaching basic orienteering skills on the football field...determine length of pace... start at SW corner of goal line, 75 degrees for 22y, then 325 degrees for 45y etc..the intent was to have them identify a point of reference in the distance on the required bearing, so they would walk in a straight line...might have him make some Ranger beads to keep track of distance...5mm plastic beads and some round shoe laces work fairly well...

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#227037 - 07/01/11 03:22 PM Re: Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills [Re: bacpacjac]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Quote:
We don't usually take a map with us in this area because it's REALLY simple


Maybe for you, but not necessarily for him. I think it takes some practice to connect the view from the ground with the view 'from the air' (so to speak) of a map. There are so many learned processes we've acquired that we don't remember learning them. It just seems that we've always known them.

But your choice of area sounds like a good one, where he can start to develop the connection between map and terrain.

I've been making a huge mistake about how far Point A was from Point B (overland) recently, and just discovered how far off I was yesterday. I felt really stupid!

Sue

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#227045 - 07/01/11 05:21 PM Re: Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills [Re: bacpacjac]
comms Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
I've been working the same situation with my son for the last couple years. He is also 8. I think the best way to train is exactly what your doing, a place with a map would almost be ridiculous to use b/c its so well laid out.

I have worked with him on the most basic type trail maps, the larger the better for a small area. For city travel he has a map with the streets on it so he can follow along. Also, 21st Century cheating, he uses my iPhone map system to follow the blue dot to the red dot as we drive. (would need to know the iPhone map to understand that, perhaps).

He really got the understanding of a map, (finally) when we were at Disneyland last year. As all the rides are laid out on it. We would pick a ride, then he would orient the map based on where we were and he'd follow the rides on the map with what he say in front of him. Worked really well.

Maybe a county or state fair near you, (or a theme park) would be a good really fun diversion to get him to understand ready a map and orienting himself to it.
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#227053 - 07/01/11 07:26 PM Re: Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills [Re: Susan]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Susan
Quote:
We don't usually take a map with us in this area because it's REALLY simple


Maybe for you, but not necessarily for him. I think it takes some practice to connect the view from the ground with the view 'from the air' (so to speak) of a map. There are so many learned processes we've acquired that we don't remember learning them. It just seems that we've always known them.

But your choice of area sounds like a good one, where he can start to develop the connection between map and terrain.

I've been making a huge mistake about how far Point A was from Point B (overland) recently, and just discovered how far off I was yesterday. I felt really stupid!

Sue


You're absolutely right Sue. (Not about being stupid, of course.) That's why we took one today. We checked it as we went along, talking about what we were seeing on the paper and in real-life. He thought it was kind of cool.
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#227054 - 07/01/11 07:27 PM Re: Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills [Re: comms]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: comms
He really got the understanding of a map, (finally) when we were at Disneyland last year. As all the rides are laid out on it. We would pick a ride, then he would orient the map based on where we were and he'd follow the rides on the map with what he say in front of him. Worked really well.

Maybe a county or state fair near you, (or a theme park) would be a good really fun diversion to get him to understand ready a map and orienting himself to it.


GREAT idea Comms! A reward at every stop! He navigated us to camp a few weeks ago using the same idea as you're using but an amusement park would be pretty slick positive reinforcement!
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#227055 - 07/01/11 07:28 PM Re: Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills [Re: LesSnyder]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: LesSnyder
...might have him make some Ranger beads to keep track of distance...5mm plastic beads and some round shoe laces work fairly well...


GREAT idea Les. Thanks!! As Sue says, understanding distances is a skill unto itself!
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#227056 - 07/01/11 07:41 PM Re: Teaching Kids Map and Compass Skills [Re: bacpacjac]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
It was an interesting hike today. We go to this marsh serveral times a year and in every season. He's old enough now to understand why navigation becomes more important as the seasons change. I recall him asking last time we were there why anyone would need a map or compass there. That was 2 months ago, in the spring. The vegetation was nowhere near as full as it is now. Nothing was higher than about belt level, the trees, shrubs and flowers were not yet in bloom, and the reeds and cattails were still dry and brown. The trail we were on looks like a gravel road in all the other seasons, with nothing but a few tiny greens along the ground.

Today, we couldn't see very many landmarks at all, only a few tall trees off in the distance. Even the creek and swamps were out of sight. We couldn't see Lake Ontario from the parking lot, or at any point until we got to the beach.


(There's a swamp on our left and a large creek on our right, that we can follow very easily during the other seasons. We couldn't even get to their banks today without a trek through the brush.)

We oriented ourselves at the trail head, and followed the main trail. There are now several intersecting paths worn through the scrub by hikers, dog-walkers and fishermen, and we might have missed the trail back if we weren't paying attention.
_________________________
Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:
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