Thursday, 21 March 2013

What is the real distance?

With the launch of our Marco Polo study, we are beginning to increase our focus on Geography-related activities.  One of the things Tiger learnt recently was to use a map scale.

I introduced the lesson by having him make a world map using cut-outs of the seven continents, labels for four oceans, and labels for the equator and the prime meridian.

Once he was happy with the relative positions of the labels and cut-outs, Tiger checked his layout with that printed in a children's atlas before gluing his pieces in place.

Here was his initial piece.  Did you spot the mistake?  I didn't either.

It was Tiger who, after a few minutes, remembered our trip to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich where he had stood on the prime meridian.

What does that mean?  That means that in his previous layout, Europe was placed too far away from the line that represented the prime meridan.  I was very glad that Tiger made the connection himself and spotted his own mistake before I did.

So, he removed the pieces carefully and re-did the right-hand side of his map:

The correct map
We then used the map above to discuss the practicalities of using a scale to represent the actual distance and size of locations on a map.

In order to understand the concept of map scale better, I asked Tiger to copy the scale found in a map onto an index card, then use that copied scale to measure the distance of a few places on the map, for example between Manchester and London.

We tried out a few different examples to make sure that Tiger has understood completely how to use and read a map scale.  All of the examples so far measured direct, straight-line distances.  Following that, I asked Tiger how he would measure the distance of a winding road or river on a map using the scale.  Tiger suggested twisting and turning his index card scale this way and that, but I suggested to him that perhaps there was an easier way.  When he failed to think of it after a few moments, I suggested using a piece of string.

We ended the lesson with a quick review.

Inspired by the book, Tiger drew a few maps of different scales -- from the location of our county to a floor plan of the house.

Country map
County map
Town map
Street map
Floor plan

It's great when the child extends the lessons himself!

Our application work came about by (1) Tiger taking measurements of his own feet before working out the actual measurements of the room first in feet, then converting the feet measurement into centimetres and metres.

(2) Scaling up a copy of a small drawing.  This is a very common scaling up method used by artists.

Once the scaled up drawing was completed, Tiger went over the outline with a black permanent marker before filling in watercolour.

The lessons above come from these books:

This post is linked up to:
1) Look What We Did!
2) Hearts for Home Blog Hop #9
3) History and Geography Meme #67
4) Virtual Refrigerator
5) Homeschool Mother's Journal: March 22, 2013
6) Hobbies and Handicrafts - March 22
7) Collage Friday - Poetry, Pastels and Purging
8) TGIF Linky Party #68
9) Homeschool Review
10) Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with All the Birds
11) Math Monday Blog Hop #92
12) Hip Homeschool Hop - 3/26/13


  1. What a great study! It is great that he caught his own mistake. I think it is wonderful that he has been to Royal Observatory.

  2. Thank you, Phyllis! I, too, am pleased that he caught his own mistake - that tells me that he was thinking when he did his work and not just following instructions blindly. The Royal Observatory is a fascinating place to visit, and with many enriching exhibits.

  3. Hwee, this is brilliant work! I'm so pleased you are doing geography more indepth this year. Once our science routine is second nature to us, I'm tackling geography, so I hope to get lots of ideas from you! B2 is now a bit more predictable enabling me to make more concrete plans for our school days (happy sigh!!)

  4. Glad to be of help, Claire! :-) We haven't done much geography until now, so I'm also very excited about the possibilities. It always amazes me how much you're doing with all your children. With B2 being more predictable, your homeschool plans will soon be even more substantial!

  5. This is a great geography lesson. Using the index card was a great idea.

  6. Thank you, Julie. The index card idea came from one of the books I used... can't remember which one off of the top of my head.

  7. Thanks for all of these map ideas -- my son is taking a maps, graph, and multiply class in co-op this semester and is very interested in mapping right now, so I'm going to use some of your suggestions. THANK YOU!

    And, thanks for always linking with Collage Friday!

  8. I learn so much each time that I read your blog. I've never seen the continents cut out and placed like that. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  9. Thank you for your kind words, Mary and Jennifer. I'm glad that you are finding my posts useful. :-)

  10. I am such a fan and love your map works! By the way, I'm curious as to where I can get a copy of RightStart Math. Is it available in UK? Thanks!

  11. Hi Jae, thank you for leaving your kind comments. I bought RightStart Math directly from the USA. I don't think they have a distributor in the UK.

  12. Thanks for linking this up to Look What We Did. Tomorrow I will be kicking off a new link up for April. I hope you'll stop by and add all your new posts. I look forward to seeing what you've been up to. -Savannah

  13. Thanks! Will try to contact them for the shipping rate. Thanks again!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...