Monique of Green Acorns is with us today with to share a wonderful project for helping children connect to their community and develop a strong sense of place.
Did you grow up in the place where you currently live? I did not and it took me quite some time before I felt truly connected to my new place. My roots were somewhere else and so much of my identity is linked to that place. This new place, however, is where my children are being raised and where their roots are taking hold.
As I reflect on the significance of “sense of place”, I find myself becoming more mindful of the experiences that my children are having and the impact they leave. Every trip to the farmer’s market and local farms, every exploration of surrounding parks and nature preserves, every event attended in our community, every observation made in our own backyard, is being woven together to create my children’s unique sense of place.
In my previous post I mentioned drawing favorite places on a map of your town as a way to nurture your child’s developing sense of place. This is a fun activity that gets kids thinking of places in their environment that are important to them and is a wonderful opportunity for parents to gain some insight on the matter. It’s also a great way for children to see the range of their community and where each special place is in relation to others.
It’s fairly simple:
- Ask your children to make a list (or dictate one to you) of their favorite places within your town. It could be a park, the library, a store, or a spot right in your backyard.
- Next, find a detailed map of your town. We chose to make a collage of images printed from Google Earth. My children LOVE Google Earth, by the way. They get such a kick out of locating a particular place and zooming in on it. And the 3D street view is so cool! It has so many features and is really a great tool.
- Once you have your map, it’s time to locate all the places on your children’s list. Older children may be able to identify most themselves. For younger children you may want to mark some specific locations beforehand and help them to identify the places.
- Time to get creative. Ask your children to paint or draw a picture or symbol that represents each place right on the map near the actual location. Allow your children the freedom to decide their own representation, providing guidance only if they seem stumped. They may also choose whether or not to label each place. My children decided together to not add place names but instead created a legend of each symbols meaning.
Now you have a beautiful sense of place map and a wonderful tool to encourage further exploration!