## Summer Math: Maps

There’s some mapping skills in the Geometry and Spatial Sense section of our curriculum, so that’s the connection I’m writing about today. One of the Grade 1 big ideas is: “describe the relative locations of objects using positional language.”  For Grade 2 students, one of the specific expectations is: “describe the relative locations (e.g., beside, two steps to the right of ) and the movements of objects on a map (e.g.,“The path shows that he walked around the desk, down the aisle, and over to the window.”)

The girls at our church go on a camping trip every summer for a few days.  The girls have to be between the ages of 11 and 18 to go, but of course there are adult leaders.  I’m been about a million times and I love it!  We go to a place on Highway 144, north of Sudbury.  It’s in the town of Levack, and just past Onaping Falls. This year I only needed to go for one night, so I had my two children with me.  It was such a beautiful day that I decided we’d leave a bit earlier than necessary and stop at the Onaping Falls Lookout.  A.Y. Jackson painted a painting called “Spring on the Onaping River” here.

Thinking I remembered the way, we set off on a trail.  We got to here, but it was a dead end.

Back to the map we went!

Turns out we had followed the trail to the Handicap Lookout Area (it was wheelchair accessible.)  We used the triangle to orient ourselves, then re-parked the car in the “picnic and parking area” closer to the trail-head.  I wish I had a picture of the rocks we had to climb to get down into the river valley!  It was a lot of work and I didn’t have time to take photos on account of trying not to fall and break my neck – or allow my children to do the same.  At the bottom we enjoyed some time by the river.

After looking at the map, both children wanted to walk all the way to the lookout bridge, which we could easily see in the distance.  However, after this short hike, we all agreed that the bridge would need to wait for another time.  I think the trail would have been much easier after our descent, but I was already thinking about going back up the hill.

Car trips…or van trips…are a great time to practice lots of practical math skills.  For a while we played a “game” of finding numbers higher or lower than 50 on the road. The speed limit was 90Kp/h, we had to go 400 m to the next turn, there were 17 km until we got to Sudbury, etc. We then challenged ourselves to figure out how far away from 50 each number would be.  We mainly did this with the single- and double-digit numbers.  I feel like this is all part of gaining spatial sense.  By the end of the trip they were saying, “500 meters isn’t that far, right?” or “250 KM!  That will take forever!”

We’re headed off on another road trip today – this time going south. Both of my children are weirdly obsessed with taking surveys.  I’m going to challenge them to come up with some data they can gather while we are driving.

Finally, how beautiful is this:

## Mapping

I sat down with the social studies curriculum the other day, double checking to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.  As I looked at all of the expectations, I realized I hadn’t done that much with mapping this year.  We did a bit, but not much.  Then I looked over the geometry things I knew I had left and realized that I really hadn’t done enough mapping.  So last week, we worked on mapping!

After talking about maps and their need to make things really clear and help people find things, I gave everyone a piece of graph paper.  They all drew a map of our school yard.  They did a pretty good job!

Then when we went on a walk for science, I asked everyone to pick up a small rock.  Back at the class, we painted them different colours.  The next day, I asked everyone to think of a place where they could hide their rock, then mark that spot with an X.   We were going outside to hide our rocks in that spot, then trade maps and see if someone could find our rock. Everyone was very excited to head outside and get started.

I hadn’t, of course, anticipated that the kindergarten would be outside at this exact time. It’s ridiculous because they go outside at the same time every day, but I was so excited about my own thing that I forgot about their thing.  Soon, as you may have guessed, there were 10 or so kindergarten completely over the moon because they’d found a gorgeous rock unexpectedly in the yard.

New plan:  The next day, I drew a map.  We were talking about symmetry, and I had shown a picture of school on Google Earth.  It’s a completely symmetrical building!  My map was an ariel view of the space just outside the fence.  We’ve walked there a million times.  During recess I ran back to a less than secret spot, and hid a bag of candy.

When the bell rang, I met everyone outside.  I had them join their May Learning Partner and share a copy of my map while they searched for the treasure.  Everyone wandered around for a about 10 minutes before someone said, “This doesn’t make sense.  The X is behind the school, not in the play yard.  It doesn’t make sense!”

“Why not?” I asked.  He just kept repeating “It doesn’t make sense.”  Finally I prompted, “Well, are you trying to say we need to leave the play yard and go behind the school?”

He gave me a blank look and then said, “Yeah.  I think we do.”  He then went about trying to see if anyone agreed with him and soon we were headed to the back yard.

“Pick a landmark,” I told them. “Someplace where you want me to stand.” They picked a spot; I reminded them that if they found the treasure they were to keep it a secret and come sit beside me.  Two people actually did that before another person was overcome with excitement and gave the hiding place away with a loud, “Here it is!!”  But they were all in the general vicinity when he did that, so I’m calling this a success.

For the past few weeks I have been experimenting with using the outdoors as the classroom.  We go out to do work we could be doing indoors, but I am also trying to do things that teach about the outdoors, and use the outdoors as a resource, not just a work space.  I feel like this activity would have been less successful inside because we would have all been a bit more stressed about the noise we generated.  (Ok, mostly that would be me.) I also feel like it would have been less successful if we hadn’t been outdoors so much lately, taking the time to notice the yard and the trees, and exploring the landmarks (natural and human made) around us. I feel like putting the math and mapping skills into this context helped everyone see meaning in the activity.  (Another example of how Cathy Fosnot is right about everything!)

Technically I have now accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.  But there are only a few weeks left until the summer break and that is when the really good stuff happens if you ask me.  I am quite sure that I could do this activity a few more times.  My map drawing skills will greatly improve!  I also think I can get some members of the class to draw the maps for other members to follow.  I have 6 grade 3s and the drawing is more for them anyway.  They will love drawing a map to help their classmates get to the ingredients for an ice cream party on the last day!