This activity is designed to get the children thinking about the area in which they live and their community. The purpose is to encourage conversation, sharing experiences and memories of special places in their local area.
What you will need:
· Large sheets of white paper or a roll of wallpaper would be even better
· Coloured pens
· Photos of buildings and shops from your local area
· A map of the area
Preparing the activity
Prior to this activity, you will need to take some photos of shops, buildings and special areas in your community. You could include the park, supermarket, town hall, school, nursery, toy shop, church, train station etc.
To prepare this activity, fix the paper to the floor using masking tape so that it doesn’t move around. Using a felt tip pen or Sharpie, mark out a road and some areas meaningful to the children such as the local park. This activity is not dependent on your drawing skills so please don’t worry!
Place the photos around the edge of the paper so the children have a good view of them.
Doing the activity:
Gather the children around, explaining that you have made a map which shows the area where the setting is. Start by placing a photo of the setting on the map. You can model language by sharing your own experiences about how you get to the setting every day. Talk about whether you walk or drive and what you see and hear on your way.
From here, you can engage the children in discussion about where they live by looking at the photos. Can they name the shops? What do they sell? Engage them in sustained shared thinking “I wonder where I could go to walk my dog…” and “I need to buy some bread after work, I don’t know where to go…”
Talk about what they see on their way to the setting, places they have visited and who they have been there with. Perhaps you could try to place the photos on the map together, working out where they go in relation to each other. This is a time to use language such as “closer”, “further away”, “next to” and “opposite” to describe locations.
After the children have explored the map using the photos, they could use pens and pencils to add their own elements to it. Perhaps cars, people, trees, shops and buildings. This is a good way to encourage the children to mark make with a purpose, as well as describing their ideas. Those more confident writers could have a go at writing their name where they think they live on the map, or even label some buildings. The children could use the map with toy cars and add small world animals or wooden blocks to make buildings.
For those who are interested, show a ‘real’ map. Point out where the setting is on there and other familiar locations from the photos. Look at the symbols and street names – great for linking sounds to letters!
Any age of early years child will enjoy the painting element of this activity, but it is most beneficial for children aged 3 and up.
Tracking the activity
22 - 36 months:
30 - 50 months
40 - 60+ months