Observe and Interact: Map-Making

One great way to observe and interact with your garden space is by creating a map of it. Map-making is a great activity because you can tailor it to the age and skill level of the child. 

Little ones can simply draw the important things they see or older kids can take measurements and create a map to scale – also incorporating a bit of maths.

My kids, aged 5 and 8 created something in between. We chose to make a map of our front yard because it’s a rectangle and easy to measure. We started by making predictions of how big we thought it might be.

Ms 8 guessed 5m x 7m and Mr 5 guessed 17m x 16m. (I suspect he was just naming numbers he likes.) Then we busted out the tape measurer they measured it all on their own and wrote down their findings: 8m x 11.5m (right in the middle of their guesses).

Then we talked about drawing it to scale. After a few experiments and a discussion about metric vs imperial, we decided we’d draw it in inches. 8×11.5 inches felt too small so I had Ms 8 double the numbers and then measure it out and draw the borders.

Then I had her write down all the important elements of our yard: all the trees, the two veggie patches (and everything growing in them), the pot plants and rose bushes. She drew all of the various plants and labelled them.

Because Mr 5 is a little less detail-oriented, he instead drew our house and our neighbours’ houses on either side of us.

Then they coloured everything in. Ms 8 kept running outside to double check her colour choices, wanting to get everything as accurate as possible.

We could have added the challenge of measuring where all of the trees and various features were, but doing it a bit more freehand meant she had to do more observations.

The first Gardeneers book, called “The Cicada Detectives” is all about observing and interacting with a space so that you can figure out the best way to plan out a garden. It can also be a great way to see what’s working, and what you might need to change.


Test your powers of observation…  for those of you who have read “The Cicada Detectives” can you figure out what important feature we left off our map? Leave a comment if you think you know the answer 🙂

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