Map It Early

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Cheap, sometimes free, easy, and educational. Sold already? Homemade or printed “real-life” maps. Laminating optional.

Mapping our Move: The girls were only 18m and almost 3, and my son was only old enough to spit up on it, but I wanted a way for them to visualize our journey, especially the oldest who seemed to thrive with routine. Her world was about to be turned upside down a few times in this process, and I was hormonal from just having a baby.

See the 2 clothespins? The girls were each in charge of one, which I made to look like our 2 trucks. We left our Okie House (tearfully–shout out to my Okie Mamas!) and made a pit stop in Missouri to spend a week to see our family for Christmas. A week is forever for toddlers…and parents of toddlers. We were able to talk about and point to the map often about where we were and what was next. When we made it to the corporate apartment (hysterically), this map went on our fridge…that I quickly stocked with food for emotional eating.  We talked about one more big move on our map and all the boxes that would meet us there. I have made some variations of this early childhood map on a few roadtrips. Keep it simple, have fun, and be excited about them using a map!

Out and About Mapping: When you go to a zoo, aquarium, museum, amusement park…anywhere that has a printed map (whether you need it or not) give it to your kids. Take a minute at the mall or airport map. Let them lead the way. Guide them. Let them mess up. Get lost. Let them help find the way. Ask them to find the bathroom. Talk about the key and symbols. And, by all means, teach them the art of putting the map away and flying by the seat of their pants.

Roadtrip Mapping: When we took this trip from Dayton, OH to Ashburn, VA to meet my newest cutie pie nephew, Luke, our kids were 3, 2, and 1. Yes, we’re crazy. I made a very last minute effort to make a map for the kids after packing half the house into our car. Thank you Google for easing my mom guilt. Print. Laminate. I had them draw a line with a dry erase marker along Google’s blue line as we drove. And, with a push of the button, I make one for the return trip. This is how we continue to use maps with the kids on any trips we take. And, for that matter, it doesn’t have to be long ones. I might just make one from our house to the store sometime. Put that on my to do list right after making my floor less crunchy.


Click here for ideas when YOU or your spouse travels or that one time every 10 years when you go together,  use the Find my iphone app to let your kids follow your trip.


Click here for ideas for your Back Seat Learners, including some tips on ways to use the GPS. 

Happy Mapping! Shelisa

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  1. When we visit the farm we go for a tractor ride and have a map. My 2 year old follows the route via the animals and pictures on the map and loves it.

    Thank you for linking to Tuesday Tots

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