The students of grade 2 are finishing up their units on Maps in Social Studies. In this unit they paid two visits to the lab, once to explore the wonders of Google Earth (navigating to both their school and home) and once, to create a digital map of their own bedroom. The Google Earth lesson was interesting for some (who learned how to use street view and could spin 360 in their drive way) and frustrating for others (whose homes are not yet in street view). Either way, they enjoyed the adventure and liked how they could manipulate the views in ways that no paper map could accomplish.
For their digital creation, we used the online drawing tool found on Kerpoof. This website, which is owned by Disney, allows students to use digital drawing tools to make their creations. I chose this tool over MS Paint because it had fewer choices for editing. I don’t typically like to limit my students but I found that by having limited options for drawing choices, the children were actually given more freedom to create with what they had in front of them. I also like the auto-correcting shape tool in Kerpoof. It allows corrections for circles, squares, and rectangles for those of us with less than perfect drawing hands.
As I have a teacher account for the site, we saved their creations in my account, to avoid having to go through the file server (lots of extra steps for a 7 year old) and then I was able to print the creations out for them to take home or hang in our “map gallery” outside the lab.
This activity was a challenge in several ways for students. Some were not satisfied until their beds or dressers were perfectly shaped and so they spent a lot of time with their eraser function. Some thrived in the creative realm and created maps complete with stuffed animals and doorknob adornments. The project encouraged the students to visualize their rooms in “satellite view” (from their Google Earth experience) and they had to grapple with spatial awareness and creativity.
All in all they walked away with experience in a new tool and a personal connection to cartography. These connections are priceless.