Explore Together: Map Colors

  • camera or cell phone
  • cardboard (large sheet)
  • crayons
  • newspapers
  • paints
  • paintbrushes
  • plastic cups
  • plastic spoons
  • scissors
  • color
  • communicate
  • mix
  • paint
  • shade

MA Standards:

Speaking and Listening/SL.PK.MA.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners during daily routines and play.

Head Start Outcomes:

Logic and Reasoning/Symbolic Representation: Represents people, places, or things through drawings, movement, and three-dimensional objects.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

English Language Arts/Language 2: Participate actively in discussions, listen to the ideas of others, and ask and answer relevant questions.

Explore Together: Map Colors

STEM Key Concepts: There are many different colors; A color can have many different shades (from very light to very dark); White paint mixed with a color makes a lighter shade of the same color; Black paint mixed with a color makes a darker shade of the same color; Two or more colors can be combined to make a new color; Objects can be classified by color

ELA Focus Skills: Creative Expression, Speaking and Listening, Vocabulary

Educator Prep: Before the activity, spread newspaper on the floor, or if you can work outside put it on pavement. Then place the cardboard sheet on the newspaper. Display books of maps. Hang a large map in the area, if possible a simple, clear, children's map.

Gather children in the area of the activity and tell them they will use the materials to make a large map of their neighborhood. Ask children what they know about maps. Include in the discussion:

  • places on a map
  • colors used on a map
  • reasons for using a map
  • why people use a map

Then review with children what they learned about colors being used to communicate something to a person. (traffic light, construction area signs, police car light, etc.)

Point to the map(s) on display. Tell children that the colors in a map can communicate things to a person who is using the map. Say, Most maps use the same color to show different things. Ask, What color do you think people use to show where a lake or a river is on a map? What color do you thinkg people use to show where there is a forest or a lot of woods?  Reinforce that these colors are communicating to the person using the map where things are located. 

Tell children they are going to make a map of things in the neighborhood. With children, make a list of things in the neighborhood. (school, playground, woods, grassy field, school bus lot, farm stand, etc.) 

Read the completed list. Then have children plan out their map by using crayons to draw the locations and objects they want to paint. 

Then have them explore mixing colors and shades of color for each object or location they want to include on their map. Remind children that the map is used to help people find their way around the neighborhood, say, So, if you want someone to recognize the school building on your map, you will want to make the color of the school building the same color red as our school building. Guide them to include streets, houses, and trees. As they work, ask questions, such as:

  • What colors will you mix to make a darker shade of grass darker? What can you do to make it lighter?
  • What colors will you mix together to make the color of the street?

Take photographs as children create their maps. Put the dried map in the block center or allow children to bring out the cars and trucks to play outdoors.

Reflect and Share Together
Leave the maps to dry but have children gather around the area so they can share their maps. Encourage children to identify things on other children's maps. Have any photographs you took available so children can point to their ideas as they speak.

Educator Tip: You may want to take a neighborhood walk before beginning the map-making activity. Allow pairs to draw on clipboards anythings they may include in their map. 

Adaptation: You may want to limit the map area to the learning facility and have children make a map of their room(s) or school. 

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