A few years ago we looked up some books to read for Arizona, and I found this great book called Kate Heads West. The only problem, Kate Heads West isn’t specifically about Arizona, it’s more of a travelogue as she travels around the Southwest. I super loved the book, but it didn’t fit the reason why I bought it. However, it is the perfect book for a picture book mapping lesson. So, we followed what Kate did in the book as she traveled around the Southwest United States.
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Kate Heads West, mapping a picture book
Kate is invited to join her best friend, who recently moved out West, and her family on vacation. She flies out to meet her, and they drive all over Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona stopping all over to see famous landmarks. We follow her journey as she writes letters home to her family.
Mapping a picture book
We started reading Kate Heads West cuddling on my bed, and we got about one page in before I said, “We need a map and to draw out where all she’s gone.”
So, I headed over to my computer and printed out a United States map (just the Southwest, so I could get a close-up) from my Wondermaps program for each of the kids, and for myself and we grabbed a pen (anyone else love clicky pens?) and got started.
Kate started off in New Jersey and flew to Oklahoma City. From there she drove South to Forth Worth, and Houston.
From there Kate visited the Alamo in San Antonio and they drove over to New Mexico. Each step of the way we added to our map, and added to our map key. We chose to use a dotted line to show when she was flying and a straight line while she was driving.
After we had mapped out the entire trip. We started looking up distances between each and every city to see how far she actually traveled. Because our map does not give a map key for distances, we turned to the internet.
Learning HOW to look things up on the internet is an important skill for this time. So I had the kids look up Google maps and find the distances between each step of the journey.
Slowly but surely we figured out she traveled quite far. Thousands of miles on this trip. Of course, just driving across the entire state of Texas does net you 800 miles…
Expanding picture book mapping lessons beyond this book
I mean, Kate Heads West is out of print now, or it looks like it from when I looked it up on Amazon. How can you complete the idea behind this lesson using other picture books?
Easy, there are a large number of picture books that take place in the real world and travel all over.
- How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA
- How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
- Me on the Map
- Mapping Penny’s World
Are all books, you’ve probably heard about before, and probably have pins saved to Pinterest.
But, here’s a few fun topics you can easily use for picture book mapping lessons:
- Underground Railroad (Barefoot Escape on the Underground Railroad)
- Oregon Trail (Nine for California)
- vacation and travelogue stories (like Kate Heads West or Orphan Train)
- War stories
So print off some maps and get going.
More great geography lessons
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