Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Labeling the Giant Map of Africa

Remember our big map of Africa, up on the living room wall? It's still with us!

We left off working with it for a bit when I started homeschool boot camp, but even though Willow is still really struggling with focusing on her schoolwork, she does love geography, and she does love complicated projects, so it's come back into rotation.

My first thought was to use map labeling as copywork practice, but then I decided that I'd rather have the children doing copywork at the sentence level so that they could practice grammar, and using primarily common nouns or really important proper nouns so that they could practice their spelling, and THEN I purchased the Africa pin flag maps from Montessori Print Shop, and discovered that the set comes with two sets of country labels, WAY too big to use with the pin flag maps, still too big to use with the Montessori map puzzle that the instructions say that the labels are for (if I print them 1/4-size, perhaps...), but just right to use with our big map of Africa.

Labeling the big map of Africa involves several steps, all of which Will did independently:

First, she cut all the labels out, a task that I spread out over a couple of days, since Willow doesn't enjoy cutting. At some point while she was doing that, I drew in the two countries, Eritrea and Djibouti, that our Megamaps map of Africa doesn't include. This was very easy, since both countries are inside the former border of Ethiopia.

Willow spread all the labels out, chose them one at a time, compared each one to the map master until she found its location--

--then used a glue stick to glue it to the proper country:

I had expected to spread this activity out over several days, but Willow enjoyed it, really focused on it, and finished it in two:

If you wanted to make this activity repeatable, you could laminate the labels, and use tiny bits of Velcro on the backs of the labels and on the countries. I finally decided to splurge on pin flags, however, so we'll (and yes, I do mean WE, since I don't know these countries, either!) be memorizing the countries with those, and I plan for our Africa map to become so vastly cluttered with other information that leaving space to re-label the countries numerous times simply isn't practical.

For these labels, which we can now print as many times as we'd like, I have other extension activities in mind:

  • using them to practice alphabetical ordering
  • using them as headers for individual country pages in a handmade Africa book
  • if I print them quite small, I'm toying with the idea of gluing them to the backs of the pieces in our Montessori Africa puzzle
  • if they're legible when printed VERY small, we can use them to practice labeling the pin flag map at times when getting out the pin flags would be impractical
  • and, yes, probably we will eventually get to using them for copywork and to memorize the spellings of the countries

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