Social Studies can be tough for kids in Elementary School. Geography, especially is challenging, for many, because it is so abstract. But, for kids who have great map skills, it’s much easier. You can help your child learn great map skills before they even start school. Here are best map games for kids!
While map skills are usually part of the curriculum in schools, many important learning opportunities happen at home. Children learn best when skills taught in school are part of their life outside of school. Engaging in map games for kids is a wonderful way to spend time with your child, learn about how they learn, and see their skills improve right before your eyes.
This list of nine map games for kids will give your family options for beginning this important work. The most important part of each activity below is to make it fun! Your children will enjoy the time with you as long as you are enjoying it as well.
The Top 9 Map Games for Kids
1. Map My Room/House
Young children just learning the basics of map skills will love to make a map of their own room! This is often the most special place in a young child’s life, so simple and personal map games for kids like this one will make a huge impression!
A fun way to get started on this activity that uses the popular children’s story, “The Cat in the Hat,” PBS has an online interactive tool that you and your child can use together. When your child is ready, they can use symbols to make a map of the whole house with you!
2. What’s That Shape? What’s That Symbol?
An important extension of the Map, my Room/House activity, is to ask your child while they are working on their map with you what the shapes are that they are using. Encourage your child to use symbols to represent certain parts of the house and make sure you ask them what those symbols mean.
This helps your child solidify their learning and critical thinking skills. If your child is struggling with this part of the activity, you can provide a group of shapes to him or her that they can choose from while making their map. You may even want to review drawing certain shapes like squares, circles, rectangles, and triangles before you start the mapping process.
3. Hide and Seek/X Marks the Spot
This version of this classic game uses the map your child made in the previous map games for kids. Mark a spot on the map where you have hidden a favorite toy. Your child must use their map to locate the item. This may be frustrating for children at first, but let them persevere with a little help if necessary, and they will feel elated when they find their toy!
4. Puzzle Maps
Not only do children love puzzles, but they benefit from them from the perspective of their cognitive and motor abilities. Puzzle maps of a country or the world help expose them to maps in an interactive way. You can buy puzzle maps in most toy sections.
You can also encourage your child to play online map puzzle games like this one. ABCYA.com offers many other educational games if your child enjoys this one. Online map games for kids are great for kids that enjoy screen time in moderation.
5. Geography Games
Geography board games like Risk and Stratego are great for older children who need a way to practice their map and geography skills in a healthy, competitive way. There are online geography games as well such as GeoGuessR that use web-based GPS information for your children to explore places around the world.
6. Zoo Mapping
On your next trip to the zoo, you can grab a zoo map and use it for a variety of activities with your kids. You can discuss and practice measuring distances, using map keys, and using a map to find a location.
Even young children can get into this activity while they are enjoying their day at the zoo with you. When you get home, you can draw grid lines and number them to help teach older children faster ways to find objects on a map and introduce them to the concept of longitude and latitude.
7. Me on a Map
A famous map skills book called, “Me on a Map,” by Joan Sweeney is used in map games for kids in schools, but parents can introduce these concepts at home too! This online activity is just one example of things you can do with your children after reading the book together.
A similar book by the same author, “Mapping Penny’s World,” offers a new challenge for you kids if they enjoy the first one. Connecting map games for kids with literacy is a wonderful way to reinforce your child’s literacy skills at home and help them stay on track in school.
8. Prepositions for Maps
While playing any of the above map games for kids, you can introduce them to key prepositions to use when describing places such as above, next to, below, behind, and between. Make sure you encourage your kids to use these words too as they hear you using them.
9. Project Based Learning
Older students in middle and high school enjoy working on projects to show off their skills. You can get some project ideas from Scholastic. While these projects are designed for teachers, parents can use these to keep kids engaged in learning during breaks from school.
Putting It All Together
The games and activities listed above are a great way to keep map games for kids fresh and engaging. You can use these games to supplement your child’s learning any time you feel they need a refresher or an opportunity to practice their skills. Ask your child or their teacher what map games they are playing in school that they enjoy and use them at home as well.
Do you have your own great map games for kids to share with other families? Share your ideas in the comment section below.