DIY Neighborhood Puzzle Map
One of the simplest ways to teach
geography and map-reading to children is to start with small
neighborhood maps. We've all seen the printable worksheets,
with a few houses and stores lined along streets. These
types of worksheets work well, but they lack any bearing on
a child's actual physical location. What about the location
of the child's actual home or school? What about the actual
neighborhood where the child lives?
Organizations like National Geographic
offer customized neighborhood puzzle maps for sale (check
one out here). A professional map of a
school's neighborhood might be a worthy investment for a
classroom teacher. But the price can really go up once
you consider making a map for each child, or a set of
neighborhood maps to keep as file folder games.
Creating your own neighborhood puzzle map
is quite simple and inexpensive. The only supplies that
you need are your laptop or PC, paper (preferably card stock),
printer ink, and scissors.
Looking at the screen with your map,
click "Ctrl + "PrtScn" on your keyboard. This will
copy everything currently on your screen into an image.
Go to Paint and right click on your mouse. Choose the
option to "Paste." You will have an image of your
computer screen to work with in Paint. Now, simply
crop out the part of the image that you want.
Open a new
document in Microsoft word. You'll want the smallest
margins possible, to fit as much of the map on a sheet of
paper as possible. You will probably also want to use
the "Landscape" layout as opposed to the "Portrait" layout.
If you have access to a laminating
machine, you may want to laminate your puzzle before you cut
apart the pieces.
Consider including a worksheet along with the puzzle, which students complete after finishing the puzzle. Ask students tailored questions, such as: "You are at school and headed home. But you need to stop at Acme Grocery Store for bread, and at Acme Shoe Store for new shoe laces. What route will you take?" The student can answer using specific directions. What a fun way to learn your way around the neighborhood! We even made one of these for a friend's children during a move, as a fun way to get the kids excited about their new home. You can even put sticky magnets on the back side of each puzzle piece so that kids can piece together the puzzle on their refrigerator.
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