Where in the world is…?

Kids are fascinated by maps. There’s always a group huddled around the globe in my classroom, trying to make sense of those mysterious markings, bumps and colours. For the  most part, they know blue means water, green and brown refer to land, and without fail they’re always quick to ask where exactly the North Pole is – thanks, Santa.

Aside from that, they really don’t know cities from countries, or countries from continents (yet) and somewhat familiar names of places are usually in relation to hockey teams (we are Canadians, after all).

Enter these beautiful, illustrated maps by British artist and illustrator, Anne Smith. Of course they are colourful and charming snippets of culture, but what they also do so well, is remind us of something that is critical to how many little ones (and bigger ones) learn: the potent effect of images. More than just mysterious markings on a map, her visuals instantaneously root us within a context, giving us a solid sense of place. Most of my students have probably never heard of Madrid, but flash a picture of a bullfighter and I bet it would be met with more than a few knowing head nods.

I’ll have to tuck these little gems away for when we study mapping later in the year. For now, let’s appreciate these whimsical works of art and revel in the imagery that is evoked in our own minds… A stroll down a Spanish promenade, followed by some yoga in Thailand, and finally finishing that book on a sun-drenched Caribbean beach.  *Sigh*  Now that’s out of this world.

(images courtesy of the Anne Smith website, via Hooray Design)

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