Ed Bonne, "The Playground Map Guy," offers a collection of student-centered activities for making playground maps come to life. NOTE: If your school doesn't have a playground map, you might want to read Every School Should Have a Playground Map!
"Since I began painting playground maps of the United States, many teachers have remarked about how much 'incidental' learning takes place during recess and other informal breaks," says Ed Bonne, known to school principals across the United States as "The Playground Map Guy."
"Students often quiz each other or set up games on the map," Bonne says. "Some students even use the maps as play settings for toy cars and other things."
"However, and most importantly," Bonne adds, "the map is an ideal tool for planned activities that extend classroom curriculum."
Whenever Bonne paints a playground map at a school, he always leaves behind a booklet chock-full of activities. Those activities come from many sources, but most of them were suggested by teachers in Bonne's school district. Many of the activities that follow were presented and evaluated at the Michigan Geographic Alliance's 1990 Summer Institute and at the National Geographic 1991 Instructional Leadership Institute.
"These activities are offered only as suggestions, as starting points," Bonne adds. "Creative teachers are always improving on these ideas and creating new ways to squeeze out value from their playground maps."
A SAMPLING OF ACTIVITIES FROM ED BONNE
A few notes before beginning:
PLAYGROUND MAP PROJECTS FROM ED BONNE
Location activities. Invite students to paint in the proper location on the map the names of major cities, prominent natural features, and national parks. (Suggested lists of natural features and national parks appear below.)
Take a Tour of the U.S.A. Students often learn more about general locations by studying a single place intensely. Provide students with a list of possible "places to study." Let each student choose the place he or she would like to study, research that place, and think about how to build a diorama or a model from papier-mache, clay, cardboard, or another semi-durable material to represent that place on the playground map. Allow two to four weeks for the students to research and construct their models with parent supervision. A model on a 1-foot-square board is suggested. When all the models have been gathered, have students place them on the correct spots on the U.S. playground map. The opportunities for discussion of the various locations are boundless. When all students have become familiar with the locations, you could invite parents or other students to take a tour of the United States led by these special "tour guides." See below for a state-by-state list of some possible tour locations.
The U.S. Is a Stage. This project provides an opportunity for each student to research and develop an appreciation for a single state. In addition to conducting research, the student has a chance to write a play or revue about the United States. Each student chooses a character to research. The student then writes a script for their characters for a "show" about the United States. The map becomes the stage for their presentation. You might involve the art teacher, who could work with each student to draw a mural backdrop for the presentation, or the music teacher, who could teach students regional songs that would become part of this "extravaganza." See below for a state-by-state list of possible characters.
QUICK ACTIVITIES FOR PLAYGROUND MAPS FROM ED BONNE
Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A. Part of the elementary health curriculum is an extensive study of the five basic food groups. Students in a school could host a "tasting" party of foods from across the United States. Place sample foods on trays on upturned milk crates in the actual location where the food is produced.
America the Bountiful. Invite students to research the major crops grown and products produced in each state. They can draw pictures of those crops and products for display on the playground map.
Story Setting. When you read stories or historical accounts, use the map as your "reading room." Sit in the state where the story takes place. As the story unfolds, talk about why the place/location might be important to the story.
U.S. History. If it can be done on a desk map, why not the same activity on the playground map? Locations of Native American tribes, expansion of U.S. borders, and routes of the explorers are all historical themes that could be represented on the map by paintings, models, or posters.
Scale of Miles. If you've painted your map using a base-10 measurement (1 inch = 10 miles), the math practice in measuring from place to place is really quite simple.
Gym Games. Devise state-to-state relay races for your playground map, or set up portable basketball hoops at various distances for free-throw practice.
Summer Vacation. In addition to that "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essay, students might chalk out the route that their summer vacation took them on.
U.S. at Night. If you have an evening activity at school, schedule time for the students to go out on the map with flashlights. Place the lights (facing up) at major metropolitan areas. The map will look like the United States as the astronauts see it at night.
Super Bowl or World Series. Place balls for a particular sport on the locations of the major league franchises. This is a great activity to generate discussion about major metropolitan areas.
Ed Bonne has one last suggestion: USE YOUR IMAGINATION! IT'S A BIG MAP -- IT CAN USE BIG IDEAS!!
LISTS FOR ACTIVITIES ABOVE
|Alabama||Mobile Bay||Kentucky||Cumberland Gap||North Dakota||Red River Valley|
|Alaska||Yukon River||Louisiana||The Delta||Ohio||Ohio River|
|Arizona||Petrified Forest||Maine||Sunrise||Oklahoma||Red River|
|Arkansas||Ozark Mts.||Maryland||Chesapeake Bay||Oregon||Mt. Hood|
|California||Death Valley||Massachusetts||Cape Cod||Pennsylvania||Allegheny Mts.|
|Colorado||Rocky Mts.||Michigan||Great Lakes||Rhode Island||Narragansett Bay|
|Connecticut||Long Island Sd.||Minnesota||forests||South Carolina||Piedmont|
|Delaware||Delaware Bay||Mississippi||Mississippi River||South Dakota||Badlands|
|District of Columbia||Potomac River||Missouri||Missouri River||Tennessee||Tennessee Valley|
|Florida||L. Okeechobee||Montana||High Plains||Texas||Guadalupe Mts.|
|Georgia||Okefenokee Swamp||Nebraska||Chimney Rock||Utah||Dinosaur Valley|
|Hawaii||Pearl Harbor||Nevada||desert||Vermont||Green Mts.|
|Idaho||Hells Canyon||New Hampshire||White Mts.||Virginia||Hampton Roads|
|Illinois||Illinois River||New Jersey||Delaware River||Washington||Mt. St. Helens|
|Indiana||Brown County||New Mexico||White Sands||West Virginia||mountains|
|Iowa||prairie||New York||Niagara Falls||Wisconsin||Wisconsin Dells|
|Kansas||prairie||North Carolina||Cape Hatteras||Wyoming||Devils Tower|
|Alabama||Kentucky||Mammoth Cave||North Dakota||Theo. Roosevelt|
|Arkansas||Hot Springs||Maryland||Oregon||Crater Lake|
|Colorado||Rocky Mts.||Michigan||Isle Royale||Rhode Island|
|District of Columbia||Missouri||Tennessee||Great Smoky Mts.|
|Hawaii||Hawaii Volcanoes||Nevada||Great Basin||Vermont|
|Illinois||New Jersey||Washington||Mount Rainier|
|Indiana||New Mexico||Carlsbad Cavrns.||West Virginia|
|Kansas||North Carolina||Wyoming||Grand Teton|
|Alabama||plantation||Kentucky||Churchill Downs||North Dakota||wheat farm|
|Alaska||Mt. McKinley||Louisiana||oil refinery||Ohio||Cedar Point|
|Arizona||Grand Canyon||Maine||sawmill||Oklahoma||Indian village|
|Arkansas||Ozark Mts.||Maryland||Fort McHenry||Oregon||Mt. Hood|
|California||Golden Gate Br.||Massachusetts||Old No. Church||Pennsylvania||steel mill|
|Colorado||Mesa Verde||Michigan||Mackinaw Br.||Rhode Island||Newport|
|Connecticut||Mystic Seaport||Minnesota||ice rink||South Carolina||Fort Sumter|
|Delaware||chemical plant||Mississippi||plantation||South Dakota||Mt. Rushmore|
|District of Columbia||White House||Missouri||Gateway Arch||Tennessee||Smoky Mts.|
|Georgia||Stone Mountain||Nebraska||Chimney Rock||Utah||Canyonlands|
|Hawaii||Pearl Harbor||Nevada||casino||Vermont||covered bridge|
|Idaho||Snake R. Can.||New Hampshire||Mt. Washington||Virginia||Mount Vernon|
|Illinois||Chicago||New Jersey||boardwalk||Washington||Mt. Rainier|
|Indiana||500 Speedway||New Mexico||Taos Pueblo||West Virginia||coal mine|
|Iowa||corn farm||New York||Niagara Falls||Wisconsin||dairy farm|
|Kansas||grain elevator||North Carolina||Kitty Hawk||Wyoming||Old Faithful|
Alternate suggestion: You might have students research and act as a famous person in history -- past or present -- from each state.
|Alabama||pirate||Kentucky||Daniel Boone||North Dakota||cavalry soldier|
|Alaska||Native Alaskan||Louisiana||clown||Ohio||football player|
|Arkansas||"mountain man"||Maryland||jockey||Oregon||marathon runner|
|Connecticut||businessman||Minnesota||Laura Ingalls||South Carolina||Confederate soldier|
|Delaware||chemist||Mississippi||southern belle||South Dakota||Indian|
|District of Columbia||senator||Missouri||Huck Finn||Tennessee||Davy Crockett|
|Hawaii||hula dancer||Nevada||gambler||Vermont||Colonial soldier|
|Idaho||fly fisherman||New Hampshire||professor||Virginia||nurse|
|Indiana||basketball player||New Mexico||caballero||West Virginia||coal miner|
|Iowa||farmer||New York||baseball player||Wisconsin||dairy farmer|
Article by Gary Hopkins
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