Check out what we’ve been up to…how cool is this? 
That’s our very own neighborhood on our kitchen floor! 
Talk about FUN in geography!
And–not to mention, a PERFECT way to keep the kids busy indoors during the winter months. 
We’ve been doing maps, maps, and more maps in our K-1 geography with my daughter.  We’ve done world maps, classroom maps, city maps, and maps of fairy tale land. 
As we’re finishing up this unit, I thought, what better way to “bring it home” than to make a map of our own neighborhood! 
Once we finished creating our masterpiece together, my girl had even MORE fun following  cardinal directions
to take matchbox cars or her little homemade people from point A to point B
in the neighborhood (go south on Meadowview Drive until you reach Old Meadow Rd.  Head south west until you reach the playground.  Go east to the duckpond, etc). 

But as you can imagine, my little boys–ages 2 and 3 have also been THOROUGHLY enjoying it all week, playing for a good hour or two there each day with their cars and trucks. 
It’s been awesome to have it in our breakfast area too, that way when I’m preparing meals in the kitchen, the kids have something to do!
You may have seen these before–I am certainly not the first one to create a map of streets on my floor, but I thought it would be fun to take it to the next level by creating our actual neighborhood
(using a print-out from google maps),
and then filling it it with not only houses, but
all the things that make our neighborhood so special. 
I first typed in my address to google maps, and zoomed out a bit to show our whole neighborhood.  Then I printed the page, and used it as a template to recreate our larger map.
After I taped the streets out onto butcher paper (I was too nervous to put the tape down directly on our flooring), we spent the next 3 days decorating it. 
In truth, the boys even had a blast the first day when there were only roads on the paper. 
All three kids were really excited to get started!
But it became really magical once we added in all the details. 
There were lots of things the kids could do on their own (cutting out houses, drawing windows and doors, coloring in the road, using our zig-zag scissors to cut out trees, and gluing lots of things down).
We took lots of breaks from working to just play each day… then we’d add a little more. 
First there were houses, and lots of ’em!  The playground came next, naturally.
We went on to include our pool, the duckpond, and the Nursing Home located here in our neighborhood where we volunteer as a family.
This was one of my favorite parts–
We added our woods,
along with all their their wonderful trails and streams,
since it’s something we LOVE about where we live, and we spend lots of time there year round. 
Can you see the little stones my daughter put in the stream to show where we can safely cross?  😀
I made stoplights, mailboxes, benches, and welcome to the neighborhood signs, while my kindergartner cut out the little hand-drawn people we made to represent our family and special neighborhood friends.  Soon she was adding cats and dogs and balls and scooters. 
The sky is the limit with this activity!
Here is our family in front of our townhouse
…and the little girl down the street from us is one of Eden’s favorite neighborhood friends, Morgan. 🙂
A few cars parked at the pool…and a police officer patrolling the neighborhood…
We labeled roads and included a compass rose and N-E-S-W labels so we could do our “how to use a map” geography activities that involved following cardinal directions.
We had a couple of visitors over this week, and it was fun for the kids and me to show them the route they actually took to get to our house from the entrance of our neighborhood.

 Another bird’s eye view!

As you can see from this last picture, it wasn’t long before OTHER toys started making their way down to our neighborhood too…and instead of using construction paper to create the gas station, carwash and car dealership located just outside of our plan, my kids thought the toys worked perfectly. 

I don’t know how long we’ll keep this covering half of our kitchen floor, but you can bet that I’ll be rolling it up and stashing it away in the garage when I DO remove it! 

If you have little ones, I am pretty sure they’d be thrilled if you pulled out the masking tape and made them a neighborhood of their own. 
Decorate it, or keep it simple–either way, I bet they’ll love it.

If I were still teaching in public school, I would seriously consider doing this even with my older elementary students–you could use google maps to map out the neighborhood all around the school itself, and the kids could get really creative and artsy adding various landmarks. 
I find that even older elementary kids are not great when it comes to knowing cardinal directions, identifying where north is, or giving directions to someone else. 

This is an activity you could truly adapt for many ages and skill levels.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!