Like all new challenges, I started slow. We began by building our vocabulary of maps and legends. We would pull a laminated map out each morning, the minute we sat down at the table, and the boys would begin tracing states, continents, etc.
Soon we progressed to drawing maps with tracing paper, eventually adding in some blob mapping by the end of the year. I would ask the boys questions as they worked, “Show me Augusta, Maine?” or “Tell me what this body of water is?” It worked well for us but it was hard to gauge our progress at times.
Then during a playdate, a friend pulled out a gorgeous (and frightfully expensive) Montessori map. It came with pins for the different national flags so the children could mark the countries they knew. My boys loved playing with this map. I thought it was lovely…just not $150 lovely.
You can imagine my excitement when we discovered Pin it! Maps, which was founded by a wonderful, Montessori-loving Mama who decided to make affordable pin maps.
Our World Map set included:
(1) large pin map (18 x 24)
(2) control maps (12 x 18): continents & oceans, land & water forms.
69 color coded flag labels
Flag poles and bases
Our Central America map set had a similar layout but also included national flag pins for each country in Central America & the Caribbean.
Our maps arrived in a sturdy package, no bent corners for us! We purchased the actual pins from our local JoAnn Fabrics. Assembling the completed pins took three half-hour sessions. The perfect scotch tape of corresponding width was included in the package. The assembly process was simple but definitely required some time. First take a pin, place it next to the flag and secure with the appropriate size tape. Fit the pin with a tiny plastic pole and base. Repeat many, many times and then, Voila! Finished! I corralled all the pins into a plastic box with a lid for storage. The labor was worth the final product.
The seven and six year olds were the first to tackle these maps. We set our pin map on its styrofoam backing and then propped a control map up behind it. The boys took turns reading out the labels and finding the locations on the map. They loved getting to see how much they already knew without referencing the control map. They also enjoyed racing to see who could find the answer on the control map first.
Their curiosity was stirred by the elements we had yet to study. The World Map Set includes a beautiful legend with pictures of various biomes. The legend itself promoted whole new discussions about biomes that stay consistent within their latitude across various continents.
~”Hmm, I’ve traced that area lots of times and I had no idea there was a volcano there!”
~”I never knew the Tropic of Cancer ran through there!
~”Sometimes on a regular map, all the words get mish-mashed. Look here! I can tell what all the words are now and it doesn’t get mixed up in my brains.”
~”Look at all the deserts in Africa. This country is almost all desert. I didn’t know that.”
~”Look at all these flags, Mom! Can you believe that is how much I know? And look how much I have left to go!”
All around, a fantastic tactile experience for the boys that provided a great visual progress report.
The four year old was up next. We used the control map of the continents as a play mat. He placed different animals on the 7 continents. We sang through our songs about oceans and continents. I had not planned on busting out the pins for him until he asked to use them. I pulled out pins for the seven continents and read each one aloud before surrendering the pin for placement. He did a wonderful job and best of all, he had a great time placing the flags and repeating everything back to me. After a few sessions with this routine, I will add in water and landform pins, building his repertoire as time marches on. Younger children will require careful explanation of these materials and the care they require. I plan to build the care and maintenance of this set into our habit training lessons.
I am impressed with these maps, affordability did not mean compromising on quality. I love the clearly marked legends and lines. Sturdy bases and poles, unique pin points to help with identification, lovely colors, and thoughtful details throughout each set. It really felt less mass-produced and more thoughtfully crafted. These are maps my children can grow up with. I deeply appreciate investing in resources that are not one-season wonders. These maps are a lifelong tool.
We will be using various map sets for our personal home study as follows:
Classical Conversations Cycle 1: Africa Map set, Asia Map set, Central America Set
Classical Conversations Cycle 2: Europe Map Set, South America Map Set
Classical Conversations Cycle 3: North American Map Set
MFW 1st: Asia Map Set
MFW Adventures: North America Map Set
MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures: World Map Set (No national flag pins in this set! National flags are in the continent specific sets!) and the Landforms Map Set.
(note: Pin it! Maps does sell map bundles with all continents included!)
If you like what you see, Pin it! Maps has graciously extended a promo code for all our Farmhouse/Schoolhouse readers.
10% off with the code: farm
This offer expires 10/31/2015.
I purchased one map set and received another in exchange for this review. All opinion expressed above are completely my own and were not influenced by any outside sources.