Today’s younger generations live in a world where maps are quickly accessed through GPS and on their cell phones. Today unfortunately mapping skills are less likely to be a part of children’s everyday lives as they were when baby-boomers and even some younger adults were in school. Don’t let your children lose the mapping skills that you were taught in your younger days, simply because advances in technology have made things somewhat easier; teach them how to read maps and atlases through your LDS family search. Learning how to read a map while doing genealogical research can not only be interesting, but your children may be pleasantly surprised to discover that it is also quite enjoyable.
Mapping Skills from Your Research
Researching your family history provides a way for kids to learn important mapping skills, because it is necessary to find some records by location. Vital records are sorted according to locality, census records are kept according to enumeration district, knowing the location of an ancestor’s place of residents could possibly give clues to where they served during the Civil War and both World Wars as well. LDS family search is a practical means of teaching our children the necessary mapping skills using a hand on approach. They can see a necessity for this important skill, by using practical real life examples, rather than being taught in an abstract manner, where they are unable to put the skill into practice.
You can also make geography fun and exciting for your children. If you have photos of a certain area where your ancestors lived, for example, if your family lived in a log cabin years ago, and you can show your children pictures of that particular landmark, either at home or by visiting your local genealogical or historical society, Your children can have an exciting adventure by matching the areas on a map to the historical landmarks in the cities and towns where your ancestors once lived. When you get your children involved in your LDS family search, make sure that the vital mapping skills you teach them are appropriate for their age and grade level. Although you may have an older child who loves to take an adventure to find the places where your ancestors lived on a larger map, you may have a younger child who isn’t quite able to process that much information at one time. Elementary school children learn the basics of reading a map, such as learning the directions on a compass, and finding the street that a house or other landmark is located on. Helping them find the street where your ancestor’s house was originally located is an exciting way for these much smaller children to begin learning the basics of mapping. Have your child create his or her own map to help further their understanding of these mapping concepts.
Advancing Their Map Reading Skills
As your children advance into the upper elementary grades, more complex mapping skills are added, and maps of geographical areas are introduced. Help your kids learn these skills by encouraging them to find certain geographical areas where you’re ancestors lived in your family history records. As children reach high school age and even older, they will be able to learn more advanced skills such as map interpretation and analysis skills. Help your children further these skills by encouraging them to compare the boundaries, or zone regulations for the area in which your ancestors lived, and determine how these changes in the boundaries may have affected the counties where your ancestors lived through the years. You can also put their census research skills to work, by analysing a certain neighbourhood, and mapping it out. During this analysis, have your children record any changes in trends such as education, employment, and military service in earlier years compared to the way it is today.
Be sure to add a little variety to your kids’ mapping skills lessons. If you and your children don’t get excited by viewing a state road map that may be tucked in your car’s glove compartment, then find another type of map, such as a resource or topographical map to keep them interested in learning to read maps. These types of maps help them answer important questions about the crops that were grown on the family farms, and the terrain of their homelands. Railroad and military maps will show your children how the means of travel developed over the years, and how battles were won during war time. Land maps help children and adults alike to identify their ancestors and the potential connection with their neighbours. They also help us determine boundaries, such as rivers, that possibly defined their daily lives.
Let Them Create Their Own Maps
Another way to make mapping fun for your children is to create exciting projects for them to do either together or as individuals. Creating maps of your neighbourhood can be very simple for the youngest children, or more complex for older kids. Young children can draw general maps of the neighbourhood, and add landmarks, such as houses where your ancestors lived, lakes and streams in the area, etc. Older children can draw industrial maps indicating the businesses, churches, and other such places of employment, that may have played a vital part of your ancestor’s daily lives. Newspapers, fire insurance maps, and historical city records are wonderful sources of information to help your children draw their maps.
As you continue your LDS family search, take a few moments to dig into records such as non-population schedules, to find out how their homeland was developed, or the types of crops they grew on their farms. This type of map can give a behind the scenes look at how our ancestors lived and worked, rather than showing specific regions as a whole. These artistic maps can also determine which ancestors served in the military, and whose lives were greatly affected by the outbreak of certain illnesses through the years. It may be helpful to children as well as genealogists to create a migration map, to determine where their ancestors migrated from. Young children can note in which directions their ancestors moved, whether they went north, south, east, or west. Older children can make their maps more complex, by including why a certain geographical area was chosen, such as natural resources, and the layout of the land in specific areas.
You can use the advances in technology as a tool for learning. These devices can be used to find historical and geographical caches, which teach your children to find locations through longitude and latitude. Historical landmarks and markers on a map are another great way to learn more about the people who lived in your area and the events that took place their throughout history. There are several web sites you can visit to find these historical caches to include on your maps. These are a few of the many fun and exciting activities you can do with your children to help them learn valuable mapping skills. Not only do these activities teach your children valuable skills, but they help them learn more about their heritage, and how their ancestors’ lives have shaped the world we live in today.