How Maps Can Help Kids Improve Visual Literacy

How Maps Can Help Kids Improve Visual Literacy
  • Opening Intro -

    Maps are not only items for finding places and directions. In the present era, maps serve as a learning tool to boost the student's knowledge.

    In this article, you will understand how to use maps in teaching your kids and improve their visual literacy.


But why would you care about visual literacy when educating your kids? In today’s world, almost everything represents data and information in graphics mode. Visual literacy is essential for reading, interpreting, and conveying information in image format. The knowledge is necessary to develop the kid’s early education and through their entire lives.

Here are the various ways through which map-reading will help your kids to develop their visual literacy.

1. Using the Map Symbols

Various map symbols help the reader to identify landmarks and physical features that the map represents. When a kid starts learning to read and use the map, they should first learn the symbols and their use on plans.

Instead of drawing the things in 3D, maps use understandable representations that a reader can interpret and identify what they are showing.

In their initial stages of learning, kids may need to see the place and features that appear on the map for easier identification.

You would want to walk around with the kid and show them the school, church, bridge, bus station, and some more things that maps represent. You will, therefore, need to use a local map of the area you live in.

As the kids advance, they will not have to go out to read their maps correctly. With the visual knowledge they acquire, kids can easily read maps that are outside their city as well.

The map key is also vital for interpreting the information on the maps. Kids can use them to find various places. But you will see more about the use of keys in visual literacy development.

2. The Contour Lines

When you open any map, you will see continuous lies joining various points. These lines tend to go in circles in places where there are hills and straight-ish on barely flat grounds. The contour lines carry lots of information, and I remember when we were doing map reading, we used them to identify various possible positions for other features that may appear in an area.

Map work improves a child’s literacy by helping them identify the nature of a place without visiting it. For example, as I have mentioned, the appearance of circular contour lines indicate the presence of a mountain. The innermost circle will, therefore, be the peak of the hill. When the kid has to identify the highest point in the map, they can easily find it using the contour lines.

When it comes to the identification of features not indicated on the map, the kid will have to learn where to expect them. For example, a river will flow from the mountains and into the valleys. So, if the river is not indicated but the kids need to sketch the possible flow direction, they can use the contour lines as a guide.

Another use of the contour lines on a map is that somebody can tell the economic activities possible in different locations on the world map scratch. Places with contour lines that have a vast white space indicate where plains are. The direction of the mountain also shows where you can expect more natural forests.

3. Map Key

The key is an extraordinary element that any map should not lack. The digital maps we use on our mobile devices, however, may lack the key because they are meant to give the directions and calculate the distance. If you want to find a place or landmark on a digital map, you simply search the name.

Back to the map key. The key not only helps map readers to learn about the features that the map covers. Kids can use the key to find "hidden" information on a map. This skill is necessary for visual literacy as the kids grow.

Sometimes the information on a map or infographic is too overwhelming. I am sure that we do not need all the information. All you need to do is find the keyword you are interested in, and use the key to see what representation it uses on the map or the infographic you are reading. You will then get the values you need. For your kid, the key will help them locate landmarks like the nearest school, hospital, and some other facilities.

4. The Use of Information Selectively

In many cases, we come across rather too much information that we do not need. Learning to only depend on and use reliable and required information is a skill everyone wants. For instance, when you are sending your child to the shops, you should give them directions. Mention the road they should take, where to turn and the building that has the shop.

It will be unnecessary to discuss the punctured car by the roadside or the dressing of people around the area. Such details will not help your child to reach the shop. Visual literacy is beneficial when you know how to pick and use only the right information wherever you go.

When your kid grows, they may become information journalists, and their research may entail reading infographics, paintings and photos, or visiting a scene in person to get the detailed story they can publish. Regardless of how accurate the information should be, not every detail on the stage is covered in the news.

For your kid’s visual literacy empowerment, the maps deliberately leave out the details of a place when they put it on the map. When the children study the maps, they concentrate on the essential information presented. In this way, their visual learning gets to focus on necessary knowledge and study skills they need to advance in their studies and later in life.

It is also worth mentioning the use of boundaries on a map. The edges can help in solving disputes. However, in learning, the child can identify the limits where they should find the information on a map. In the same way, as they grow the skill will help them draw boundaries of possible sources of the information they need.

Summing it Up

Now you know why maps are essential learning tools in schools. I also guess you understand why paper-printed 2D maps can be more beneficial to your kids when you compare them with the digital maps you have on your phone. The next time you want to give your kid the directions, use a 2D map.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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