Monday, August 15, 2005

Teaching Kids with Maps

by Christina VanGinkel

To make the remark that my grandson has a lot of toys would be an understatement. He has a wide assortment of play items for both indoors and out. He also has quite a few that are or could be classified as learning toys. Some electric, some powered by the imagination. Still, for the upcoming holidays, I would like to purchase him something that will increase his quest for knowledge, and I do not state that lightly. At two years old, his vocabulary is large and growing daily. He has mastered potty training without a hitch, and is constantly asking questions. When you think of a kid that is always asking the 'why, when, and where' about everything they are exposed to, that is my grandson. Nothing happens in the day that he does not question. In addition, simple answers do not work for him. The more detailed the answer, the more involved he is.

Because he travels a lot with his parents to different areas across the span of the United States, I am thinking of getting him a globe. When the idea first came to me, I recalled buying my oldest son a globe for about his seventh or eighth Christmas, and thought I would be really jumping the issue with a two year old. That was until he was in Wal-Mart with me a while back, shortly after his second birthday, and saw one. He immediately told me 'Look Grandma, a big map!' If he could recognize it as a map, I was sure that he would understand the concept. When I asked my daughter about it, she replied that a floor puzzle map she had seen would probably be more appropriate for his age. A globe was OK, but she thought that all the writing on a globe would be too confusing, where as the floor puzzle map she had seen just listed the name of each state and a few other identifying notations, such as state capitals. The puzzle could also be wiped clean easily, which with him was very important. If he liked one thing as much as playing, it was toting his sippy cup with him everywhere, which meant spills.

After looking locally, I ended up finding one online through this very website,, under the heading for learning toys. I clicked on the globe, and from there found the USA map floor puzzle. The age recommendation is three years and up, but my daughter said that he would be using it with adult supervision so to go ahead and buy it for him if I really want to. The overall size is two feet by three feet, making the graphics perfect sized for a toddler, and the individual puzzle pieces easy to handle. Would he have fun pointing out not only the states he had been to, but also putting the map together each time that he played with it. The only problem I will have is keeping it until Christmas and not giving it to him right away!

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