Summary: Students create a map as a way of illustrating how they perceive their school environment. By including locations that have meaning (positive and negative), students can explore their sense of identity and write about experiences they may have had connected to bullying.
Target grades: 3rd-6th
Minimum time needed: Two to three 40 minute sessions
Materials: Maps (projections and atlases), paper, pencils, colored pencils or markers, writing materials
- As a class, look at different kinds of maps: maps that show buildings, satellite images, topographical, climate, maps that show roads and waterways, etc. Look at fantasy maps as well (i.e. Lord of the Rings) to show imaginary maps. Look at very old maps.
- Brainstorm all the different things that can go on a map. Create a list that everyone can refer to.
Part One: A Map of the School
Guide the students through making their own map of the school. Have them add the following (these are suggestions – feel free to add your own):
- the place(s) they feel safest and the most confident
- the place(s) they don’t like to be – unsafe
- a place they can be with only their friends
- a place where a trusted adult (maybe their favorite teacher) is
- a place where no adults area secret place
- a part of the school they have no access to
Part Two: A Map of the Community
As in the previous part, guide the students through making this map of their community. Here are some suggestions of what can go on the map.
- Start with the place you feel safest.
- Add your school. What pathways and obstacles lie between school and home. How close is the school to your home? NOTE: distances don’t need to be accurate – this is a map that is more about perception than reality.
- Add a place that you go to have fun, i.e., a soccer field, a baseball diamond, a friend’s house. Make the distance between this place and the school and your home representative of how it feels. Include pathways and barriers.
- Where is unknown territory? What does it look like? Is it inviting or dangerous?
- Is there a dangerous area you need to avoid? How will you represent it on your map? How close is it to your home, your school, etc.
- Add the buried treasure/ the top of the mountain (etc) – the place you want to get to. Maybe it’s high school. Maybe it’s across the world.
Other examples of things to add:
Places of worship, other family homes (grandparents, extended family), secret hideouts, sources of food and water, power stations, important stores, a place that is important to your mother/father/guardian, a place from childhood, etc.
Adaptations of this Exercise:
- What other spaces could be mapped? Brainstorm with the students and have them create a map for these places
- Have students make a map of cyberspace (this map should reflect their experience of cyberspace)
- Create a written guide to any of these maps. This could be in the form of an essay, short story or poem about one or more of these places that has meaning. Describe the places and how to get to them (or how to avoid them).