It is a drizzly Friday afternoon and Year 3 are mapping the school grounds. Taking inspiration from maps found in classic children’s literature such as The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island and Winnie the Pooh, we are becoming amateur cartographers for the day.
‘Were going to put this school on the map!’ I say.
Nobody laughs. One child smiles politely.
We take out some Ordnance Survey maps of the local area. The children are amazed at their size; for many it is their first time seeing a map that hasn’t been shrunk down to a small phone screen. We examine the strange symbols on the key, the scale, contour lines etc. We find the school, local hills and landmarks. The children find their streets and villages and squeal with delight. Great fun is had trying to fold them back again into the right shape, which predictably takes an absolute age.
The children are released to canvas the woods and find some landmarks to plot.
First to be found is ‘the spooky old tree’ which is sketched onto maps. Then we find ‘stumpy stump’ and finally, ‘pile of pig droppings’. You don’t need to see that on the map, I say, you just follow your nose.
The maps produced are lovely; inventive and detailed. We share our efforts and enjoy following the different maps through the woods. Compass directions are added, as are obligatory HERE BE MONSTERS warnings.
Mapping an area of the school grounds is a most enjoyable and worthwhile activity, combining strands of geography, art and natural navigation. It offers an excellent opportunity to see a familiar area in a new light. It is always a good idea for children to pay close attention to their surroundings.
‘Are there any questions?’ I ask, before we head in.
‘You’re a burnt banana, sir!’
‘I’m sorry?’ I say.
I look down to where the giggling seven year old is pointing. I realise I am standing in the fire pit, where a few weeks ago we cooked bananas in tin foil on the embers of a campfire.