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The Magic of Maps

The Magic of Maps
Coral Balubar

As we have further explored the aspect of “zooming in” and “zooming out” in inquiry, we have begun to see and name new ways of seeing. As we observed drone footage of our Mid-Pacific campus, the children noticed and identified the term “birds-eye-view.” What a wonderful new way of “seeing” to add to our collective and growing definition! The children’s delight in viewing the campus areas they frequent daily from this new perspective has led our inquiry into the world of maps!

Within these early stages of our map study, we have already begun to experience many of the fundamental components of inquiry that make the learning come alive!


Theorizing is the process of considering possibilities, of stepping out to explore one’s thinking about a concept or wondering that is yet to be fully known. We theorize with the ever-powerful word, “maybe…” releasing us from the absolute and allowing us to take risks in our thinking and contemplate what could be.

The children did exactly that as they were tasked with theorizing what a map of the world might look like (all references were tucked away from view). It was fascinating to see the different approaches, the varied shapes and sizes of landforms, the countries and continents included and omitted, and the different symbols and labels depicted by each theorizer. Each map theory served as a window into how each child views the world–places of importance (Japan, Maui, Seattle, Mid-Pacific, Australia, Disneyland,) their prior knowledge and connections (landmarks drawn upon landforms visited, ocean and continent names gleaned from the news and books), and how they view their place within the world (a favorite travel spot of Seattle drawn as big as the entire continent of Asia, Mid-Pacific given a special center spot, the Hawaiian Island chain drawn with care and attention).



Exploring and Observing:

We cannot thank you enough for sending in maps, compasses, globes, and puzzles for us to explore and observe! You have allowed us to build a diverse and fascinating collection of artifacts. The children have been busy pouring over maps representing everything from the close–Honolulu Zoo, Aulani Hotel, and Haleakalā National Park to the far–Amsterdam, Australia, Tokyo and the world through globes and a giant poster board. They have also been exploring compasses and have continued to practice “zooming in” by using the loupes, magnifying glasses, and even a microscope to look even closer at these special objects. We have built up an inquiry artifact table and it has been thrilling for the children to travel the world through.



Gathering Information:

We have also been gathering information to add to our knowledge of maps, the world, and our place in the world. It is important that the children understand the multitude of ways and sources from which to gather information. To highlight this, the children have been reading books about maps, have been using Google Earth to travel the globe virtually, and have been learning from informational videos.

Maps are more than just pieces of paper or digital screens with lines and symbols. They are windows into the world, revealing the diversity of our planet and our place within it. Maps are truly magical!

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