Compass, documenting nature, Orienteering

Coaxing Cartography

01.08.09 | 2 Comments

I’d been trying to coax Seth out to work on our map of the back yard for a few days.  Denise mentioned that when her children made a map of their neighborhood they drew pictures of their friend’s houses along the route.  This gave me the hook I needed, I mean really mom who wants a map of their back yard!  But a map of one’s imaginary back yard rail road – now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

We used an old landscaping blueprint to get the actual proportions of the house and fence, the rest was blank for us to fill in.  We started at the back steps “Station 18”.  Seth hopped in the wagon and chose our first stop, the sycamore tree.  We put the map down so that it showed the house in relation to how it stands in real life and slapped down the compass.  We drew a line to where we were headed and found out that the direction was roughly southwest.  Upon later examination Grandpa pointed out that North and South were reversed on our map, this is due to my dyslexia so please compensate 😉

When we got to the tree we looked at it for a while and considered how to draw this landmark.  Seth didn’t seem to know what color the tree was so we talked about gray and earth tones, but he chose pink regardless.

Our next stop was Pepper Tree Station (also Station 18).  We stopped along the way to check where we were on the map.

Before we had left Sycamore Tree Station we had approximated where we thought Pepper Tree Station was and sketched it on the map.  When we actually got there we noticed that our estimation was a little off.  We stood at the corner of the fence that lined up with the tree trunk and made adjustments.

The leg to Oak Park Station was not so successful, due to a temper tantrum we got turned around and a little grumpy.  However, there is nothing like a trusty map to distract one’s attention so with a little cajoling we were back on our way.  We looked at landmarks along the way, but none struck our fancy enough to be included in the map. 

By the time we made it back to Station 18 at the steps everyone needed a break.  Mommy needed some plant time, and apparently Seth needed some gesture drawing practice.  Since we had been accompanied by the dogs during our entire journey, Seth took it upon himself to draw them.  He spent a lot of time adding their fur, which for those of you who know Amber is one of her more prodigious features.  Seth told me he was drawing them in “real life”, it’s amazing how quickly kids incorporate concepts.

Drawing a map helped us understand spatial relationships between elements in our environment.  It also clarified any perceptions we had about how those elements interrelated.  Most importantly we plotted our railroad!

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