The Cat in the Hat Can Map This and That! | Activities | The Cat in the Hat | PBS PARENTS
Cat In The Hat Mapping Tool
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Does your child like to draw pictures of where she lives? That is not surprising since there is nothing more familiar to a child than her home and neighborhood. Well, except for her room perhaps! By making familiar places and objects part of learning activities, you immediately capture your child’s attention and create a more relevant, and fun, learning experience.
The Math Idea
Creating simple maps of familiar places, and then asking kids to use these maps to find hidden objects is a fun way to teach kids basic map skills and hone their spatial skills. This activity will also help kids develop an understanding of direction (which way?), location (where?), and representation (what a drawing stands for). As you do the activity with your child, use words that describe an object’s location and position relative to other objects, such as above, next to, below, behind, and between. Encourage your child to use these words, too.

Skills: geometry and spatial sense

Age Range: 3-6 year olds

What to Do
Map It!
What’s That Shape?
Take it Further

Getting Ready

Choose a familiar place to map. If it’s your child’s room, spend some time with your child discussing the shape of the room and the location of different pieces of furniture in the room. Use position vocabulary such as next to, on top of, under, between, over, behind, etc. Ask your child, “Is your room shaped more like a square or a rectangle?” Ask her to describe where her bed is relative to other furniture or room features (e.g., is it next to a window, between two windows, or next to the door?). Do this with other furniture, too. Once you’ve spent some time talking about your child’s room and what’s in her room, you are ready to map it! If it’s a nice day you might want to create a map of your backyard or a nearby park.

Map It!

What You Need:

How to use the mapping tool:

  1. To create a new map, choose: “Start a New Map.”

  2. What is the shape of the room or outdoor space? Choose a layout and then click “Next.”

  3. What is the floor of the room or outdoor surface made of (e.g., wood, tile, carpet, grass, and stone)? Choose a floor or outdoor surface. Pick a color for the floor or outdoor surface. Then click “Next.”

  4. Now you are ready to add furniture or other items to your room or outdoor space. For furniture, click on the red chair at the top left of the map tool. For outdoor items, click on the green tree. For other things such as shapes, a treasure chest, a window, or a door, click on the button with the red “X” and purple circle. If you want to add an item that is not shown, you can use the drawing tool (button with marker on it) to draw a picture of it. TIP: To move the items into the map, click on the item to pick it up, move it where you want it in the map, and then click on it again to drop it.

  5. Position the items exactly where you want them in the map by using the tools along the bottom. You can “Move,” “Rotate,” “Flip Horizontal,” “Flip Vertical,” and “Resize” any item. You can also change the color of any item with the “Color Changer.” If you want to remove an item from your map, click on the “Remove” tool and then click on the item. If you want to remove all the items from you map and start over again, click on “Clear All.”

  6. You can add text to your map by clicking on the “Text” tool and then clicking on the place in the map where you want to add the text. A line of text will appear. Click on the line of text and then type over it to change it to whatever you want it to say.

  7. Once you finish your map, you can use the buttons in the bottom right to either “Save” it or “Print” it. If you want to start all over again and create a new map, then click on “New.”

  8. When you save a map, you will be asked to give it a name. Be sure you give it a distinctive name, so you won’t have any trouble remembering it if you want to reload it in the future.

Take It Further

Once you’ve mapped your child’s room, invite your child to play a hide-and-seek game with a “treasure” such as one of your child’s favorite stuffed animals.

  • Hide the “treasure” somewhere in the room. Mark its location on the map with an “X.” You will find an “X” in the mapping tool by clicking on the button with the “X” and the purple circle. Now ask your child to use the map to find the treasure. As she looks for it, give her clues by using position words. For example: “It’s between two pillows,” or “under a table,” or “ next to a chair.” Once your child finds the treasure, as her to hide it for you to find. Show her how to mark its location on the map.

  • Understanding even simple maps can be challenging for a young child. You may first want to try this activity by hiding the treasure and then giving hints with only your words. For example, “It is under something big and blue that we sit on to read books together;” or, “It’s under the bed;” or, “It’s behind the door.” Once your child is familiar with the game and the position words you are using, you can introduce her to the map.

What's that Shape?

Challenge your child to a shape guessing game by using the shapes that are available in the mapping tool. Choose a layout, and then click on the button with the “X” and purple circle. You’ll find six shapes—square, rectangle, pentagon, triangle, circle, and oval. Click and drag a shape into the layout. Ask your child to name the shape and count the sides. Or if your child does not know the name of the shape, just ask her to count the sides and then say, “That’s right, the shape has 3 sides. A shape with 3 sides is a triangle.” Now ask your child to use the drawing tool to draw a matching shape. Continue this activity with other shapes.

More Ways to Discover and Learn

Go on an Adventure!

Create a treasure map that your child can use to find “buried treasure” in your backyard or in a nearby park or playground. Put small toys or candies into a box and hide it somewhere outside. Mark its location on the map by using the “X” or the treasure chest icon found by clicking on the button with the red “X’ and purple circle. As your child is searching for the “treasure,” use position vocabulary to help guide her. For example, “What’s that next to the big tree?”; “Is the treasure under the bush or between the bush and the tree?” When your child finds the treasure ask her to describe where she found it using position vocabulary.

Literacy Connection

Use the “Text” tool to label items in your map. For example, “Bed,” “Table,” and “Door.” Ask your child to tell you what letter each word begins with, and what sound each letter makes. For older kids, ask them to name items in the map and spell them for you. Introduce kids to new vocabulary by typing labels for items in your map that might be unfamiliar to your child. For example, “dresser,” “wardrobe,” “fountain,” or “birdbath.”

New Word

Map: a visual representation, usually on a flat surface, of an area or a space.

Position Vocabulary: up, down, above, over, under, on, beside, inside, outside, in front, under, around, through, behind, next to, on top, near, far

Look in a Book
There’s a Map on My Lap!
By Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz. Random House, 2002.
As the Crow Flies: A First Book of Maps
By Gail Hartman, illustrated by Harvey Stevenson. Aladdin, 1993
Support for PBS Parents provided by:
Produced By
Portfolio Entertainment Collingwood O'Hare
In Association With
Seussville Random House
Funded By
Department Of Education Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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