Mental Maps

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Making a mental map is a very important skill. You never know when you're going to need to visualize a place or a location in your head.

First of all, what is a mental map? It's a drawing of something that you see only in your head.

For example, what does your room at home look like? Can you see it in your head? Can you describe it without drawing it? Where is your bed? What else is in your room? Where are those things in relation to the bed?

When you can see these things in your head, you have taken the first step toward making a mental map. Now, you can draw a picture of your room in your head and see where different things are.

Why do you need mental maps? You might not always have a map with you. If you want to tell your friend how to get to your house after school, you can visualize how to get there and tell him or her which streets to take to get from school to your house.

Mental maps also tell us how much of our surrounding we remember just by thinking about them. For example, you probably know a lot about what's outside your home or who lives in your neighborhood. You probably know what color your neighbors' houses are (at least some of them), and you surely know how to get from school to home and back. You know a lot about where you live because you've been there many times.

But what about your state capital? How many times have you been there? What about some other place that you've been to only once? You might find that your mental map of that place has fewer details than the one you can draw of your room, your house, or your neighborhood.

This illustrates the need to really pay attention to your surroundings, another skill needed in the study and practice of geography.

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Social Studies for Kids
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David White