Map skills can be difficult for young children to grasp and suddenly they are in school faced with a map worksheet. Parents can help at home to create a foundation for map terminology and use in very simple ways. Geography was one of the last units in my year long KHT Montessori class (non-affiliate) that is soon ending. The way the geography manual lessons are prepared are nothing short of amazing, and I wish I had known those ideas when my children were young. Today I’m sharing one of my own similar ideas. The free printable will help create an indoor room and an outdoor map to begin explaining these skills to children. A four year old enjoyed this “treasure” hunt activity. DIY Map Skills Treasure Hunt and Free PDF

Map Skills Meet Real Life

“X” marks the spot for a treasure in France . . . family lives there! She has visited already and will again. Maps are consulted and used during the trips. A real life application of a quite abstract idea for preschoolers helps them begin to realize what maps are all about. Travel provides opportunities for parents to discuss maps.

To begin our little map study, we discussed where north was and that it was a direction. She has seen adults use the GPS and perhaps a map, but it was good for her to hold and be able to name a compass. I did not expect her to completely understand the directions or how a compass worked as this was her first introduction to the tool.  Click on the link to download your free PDF: map-DIY-activities-preschool


We went to the nearby arboretum and discussed the map I had prepared with colored X’s. She was to find 4 different such marks. Walking and watching and consulting the map kept her on the right path. walking-north-on-the-path

The pink X was found! Joy!


I did not hide the treasure outside.  It was not necessary for this approach. When each “X” was located, she could have an item from a bag of treasures I was carrying.  That way the items were not taken by others before we could find them as they were in my possession. find-x-marks-the-spot-on-the-path-map

We tried an indoor map, also. You may use the printable to cut and paste the furniture and items in the right places for a space at your house. Maybe you will be inspired to draw your own maps.


This is our inside map that is a sample idea.


A compass, a map, driving directions, and other information parents consult could be named and pointed out to help children realize these tools help us find locations. There are many tools at home parents can explain to children without expecting the child to be able to utilize such tools. It is enough to just explain what the tool is for. If parents demonstrate, name, and/or involve children in measuring when they use tape measures and yardsticks, these items will not seem foreign when encountered in math class. I taught first grade for many years and many of our measuring items as well as globes and maps were completely new to many children. It is an advantage for children to at least realize these items are useful on a daily basis.

Thank you for reading, Carolyn
You might also like this free instant download for the Miss Rumphius picture book.