Maps to Mazes for Preschoolers
Presented by: GLCAC, Inc. Head Start Lawrence, MA
Strand: Early Education
Early childhood teachers, administrators, teacher candidates, and others interested in STEAM education for young children will be inspired by the display of preschool children’s work in their Maps to Mazes explorations. They will take away a new appreciation for the developmental stages of children’s understanding of maps, map-creation, and mazes and how these concepts are investigated, developed, and enhanced in the preschool classroom.
A unit of study called Maps to Mazes integrates science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics was implemented in GLCAC Head Start classrooms located in Lawrence and Methuen, MA. An exploration of maps, map making, and mazes was studied to (1) enhance the children’s spatial thinking abilities; (2) promote children’s investigation and relationships between themselves and their physical environment; (3) formulate relationships of objects in space to pathways for movement; (4) assist in visualizing the relationships between objects and places and locations; (5) develop beginning concepts involving scale; (6) investigate environmental science concepts; (7) understand the relationship between the map and the physical world; and, (8) explore location, space, direction, and movement.
Children explored location and space through observations and intentional interactions with the environment in which they learn and play. Conceptual knowledge was conveyed through hands-on experiences and age-appropriate applications needed to create maps that would represent their world and the discovery of mazes. Early explorations exploded into a variety of activities and experiences that involved active participation of the children, educators and parents. To mention a few: the creation of two- and three- dimensional maps of their classroom, playground, and other familiar areas; the design of treasure maps for finding objects and using language to point out a location; environmental studies; discovering the purpose of map and maze creations; and, using a simple coding robot for mazes.