Personal Maps

Through the inquiry into Place, our umbrella project for the year, I am starting to understand more about children's developing sense of place, as well as the development of the concept of 'map'.  
When Page brought this group of 4 year olds to the studio to draw maps, several chose to draw maps that are personal to them (as opposed to maps of the school or forest).  
Lolita chose to show a map based on a game, "Indian Jones", complete with a path through a jungle. She is the first I have seen to draw a key to a map, something she learned from the game. She said 'This shows how many points you got from the people, there are guys with bow and arrows here, and the green part is the jungle." 
The brown part is Indian Jones whip " His brother can't go in the jungle, but Indian Jones can swing (on his whip), and he can go somewhere without his brother, and then he can bam something, and then his brother can go there too." 
This map incorporates landmarks as well as action, characters and change (as in the brown areas that turn green after being 'bammed'). It is the representation of a 21st century digital/hypertext map.
Afton's map shows the route that she takes when walking her sister to school in the morning. It was important to her to draw her sister's backpack (there is a little practice sister to the side). Her house is represented by a door, and you can see the route goes around some turns on the way to the little elementary school. I can see that Afton understands the idea of a map, and I can also see how her concept differs from the adult in that the people are so prominent. Her walk to school is as defined by the people she goes with, as by the route.

Nolan has really been thinking about maps a lot. He has been building a model of our school, and on this day, represented his life story through a map. This shows his old house in Princeton, his Grandmother's house, highway 95, the place his Dad works and his new house. In looking at this, you can see that mapping is becoming a language for Nolan, a way for him to communicate ideas.

All of these children are helping me understand the development of an idea like 'map' for young children, and to think about the differences in the ways they use 'map', as opposed to how the grown-ups understand this construct .


  1. Wonderful documentation. I also am fascinated with this ideas of maps. Whether a map by an artist, in an atlas, or by children, it's so thought provoking.

  2. What a great insight into Nolan's work - I never would have thought to frame it as him telling his life story through map-making, but that's really what he's doing, isn't he? Thanks for this post, Anna!


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