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Map Skills for Kids: Planning a Route

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Do your kids know how to plan a route with a map? Do you? This simple STEM activity teaches map skills for kids they can use to find their way around the world using a traditional road map. Use this activity to round out maps themed thematic units!

This activity is one of our favorite technology activities for kids!

Could your kids survive without GPS? Teach kids how to read and use a map old-school style and help them develop map skills for kids in this easy activity!
Developing Map Skills for Kids

Without a GPS, I’m pretty lost even though I’ve taken navigation courses. I don’t want my kids to be in the same boat, so I try to make sure they can use all available tools to find how to get from A to B without the use of electronics! Map skills for kids is the first place to start.

Could your kids survive without GPS? Teach kids how to read and use a map old-school style and help them develop map skills for kids in this easy activity!

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elementary stem challenge cards

Reading a Map

Supplies:

  • Road map 
  • Pen
  • Compass (optional, but helpful)
  • Permanent marker
Could your kids survive without GPS? Teach kids how to read and use a map old-school style and help them develop map skills for kids in this easy activity!

I instructed Monkey on how to identify what each part of the map code meant. We found the lines that meant roads, rivers, state boundaries, and the mile code. We found that on our map, an inch equaled about 300 miles. We talked about how most maps are designed to be examined with north at the top, south at the bottom, east on the right, and west on the left. I had her identify various rivers, roads, and cities on our map.

Planning a Route

After decoding the map, I had Monkey plan a route. She wanted to travel to Los Angeles from Dallas where we live. She traced the roads with a marker, then estimated how long it would take to get there using the distance code. We added in extra time for sleeping. She decided it would take about 3-4 days to get to Los Angeles by car using her route. We discussed how to identify if you are still on the right path for your destination by identifying towns and road names along the way. This map skills for kids activity definitely helped boost her map literacy.

Could your kids survive without GPS? Teach kids how to read and use a map old-school style and help them develop map skills for kids in this easy activity!

She was rather surprised that people used to leave the house with so little information!

elementary stem challenge cards

Save this idea for later!