The development of spatial skills and the ability to read and interpret maps are important concepts to teach, and a new picture book can help engage children in this vein while entertaining them with a story. Mapping My Day by Julie Dillemuth and illustrated by Laura Wood introduces a little girl who describes different aspects of her daily routine through the use of maps and explains the related symbols, terms, and ideas as she goes along.
Children often learn the cardinal directions early in elementary school– anyone else’s children come home reciting “Never Eat Soggy Waffles”?– but what I love about this book is that the concepts are applied directly to a child’s life. In this case, the young girl shares that she wakes each day with the sun in her face, and since she knows that the sun rises in the east, she knows that her bedroom window faces east. From there, she draws a simple diagram of her house and is able to place the compass rose in the appropriate place on her map!
Other uses for maps include using grid paper to compare the number of steps from her bedroom and the bathroom to the number between her brother’s bedroom and the bathroom. What a funny way to introduce the idea of a map scale! (Siblings will relate to how important it can be to get in there first!) Different routes from one place to another are explored on another map, along with the concepts of symbols, landmarks, and map legends.
Another thing to note, though not related to the book’s map theme, is the diversity in the book. The young girl’s family is multiracial, as is the community depicted. This is not the point of the story, nor is it even mentioned at any point, but it’s nice to have this representation presented naturally.
After the story, there are notes for parents and educators, as well as downloadable resources for children to create their own versions of the types of maps shown in the book, extending the fun and educational reading experience.