Tomorrow (January 18) we get to celebrate Winnie the Pooh. Yup, you read that right, we have a Winnie the Pooh day in the United States. It is intended to be a celebration of the creator of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne, but for my family it is a great excuse to watch the classic movie ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.’ During this time, you may also want to take a few minutes to teach your children a little bit about GIS through some creative ideas. The best is to explore the Hundred Acre Wood that is based upon the tale of Winnie and his friends. You can bring it up on your tablet or smartphone and reference it while watching the movie teaching your kids about how the map is setup, which way they are moving, and also the specific “coordinates” on the map that Piglet’s house is located. Furthermore, there are some great resources online to further the discussion about how great GIS is.
You can take any of the great templates that Esri has made available and put together a story map of your recent vacation. If your kids are into sports, another great idea is to map out their favorite sporting teams from across the country. For more advanced learning, they could break down the league leaders in a statistic category.
Geocaching is an outdoor activity, in which the participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world. It has a great benefit of teaching the importance of how points (coordinates) brought you to a specific place outside for a reward. This not only teaches kids how to read a map and what a GPS receiver is, but also the importance of the two together when working towards finding the cache!
Teaching With Maps
Another great tool available from the national education association is Teaching With Maps. They have built a great resource for teaching kids of all grade levels through maps. They have lesson plans you can follow, print outs, videos, and even statistics for making maps.
While older, the US Department of Education has some great resources on how to talk to your kids about maps, along with activities to help them understand the basic concepts. Everything from ‘Get the Map Habit’, which teaches even young kids to learn how to read maps, to ‘How Regions Form and Change”. You are bound to find some information on the best way to talk to your kids. At the end of the day our goal should be to teach our kids about the fun and endless learning possibilities that GIS allows. Here at GISi we are actively participating in GIS Day each year and always excited to teach all kids about the passion we have for GIS!