Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Practical Mapreading Skills

Yesterday, during M-girl's cartography lesson she was learning about map grids. The lesson in her book showed two very small maps, identical except for the fact that only one had a grid. It was supposed to show how map grids make finding places on a map much easier. It didn't. The maps were much too simple, and it was painfully easy to find their symbols for school, church and fire station.

I explained to M-girl the importance of knowing how to use a map grid. I pulled out our world atlas, and together we looked at larger maps. Soon I was able to challenge her to find oddly named places just by finding the coordinates. She enjoyed that far more than her lesson book. Still, she didn't seem to accept that this was a necessary life skill to master.

I told her that back in the old days (before the invention of the GPS) everyone had to use road maps to navigate their way around. She still looked sceptical that she would ever really need this out-dated skill.

Finally inspiration struck. I reminded her about what the dastardly dog did just a couple of weeks ago. Yep, Trinket chewed the GPS wire right in two while we were in the car with her! Thankfully Radio Shack sells replacement wires!

Don't let her innocent, puppy face fool you for a minute. She's a tiny, tornado of destruction. Lucky for her, just as I was about cut off her supply of scooby snacks I was able to turn the whole episode into a teachable moment.

"M-girl", I said, "what if you grow up and have a little, bad dog like Trinket who eats your GPS?"

She decided that knowing how to use map grids is still indeed a useful skill.


  1. This made me smile - glad you were able to find a motivating reason to learn a new/old map skill. With all these technological advances it can be difficult to explain to a child just why a skill needs to be learned.

    1. It's amazing how much things have changed since I grew up! My kids are fascinated by stories of rabbit ears, black and white TVs, and gasp...no remotes!

  2. Oh my goodness...that has been hard! Getting our children to understand basic skill that lots of technology has taken over. We don't have GPS and use maps still, but other things like, well, Math. Our youngest said that if he is a bum he won't need it. Strangely, I remember telling my mother something like that when I was home educated...

    1. HaHa! That sounds like something my 12 year old would say! You're right though, kids just don't realize some of these skills are still necessary, even though odds are a computer could do the work for them.