The paper presents a project on the use of maps in the kindergarten. Twenty-four children (5 to 6 years old) from three nursery schools in a rural area in central Greece participated in the program, which aimed at initiating them into the cartographic knowledge through the understanding and production of maps. Furthermore, the project aimed to promote the children’s decoding skills in order for them to develop visual literacy which appears to be a necessity in today’s pictorial world.
Data about the preschoolers’ cartographic knowledge prior to the program was gathered through personal interviews based on a semi-structured questionnaire. The same method was used for the final assessment of the program. Discourse analysis was conducted using electronic data gathered from the questionnaire in order to explore the children’s comprehension of maps prior to and after the completion of the program. Additionally, the entire procedure was evaluated by appropriately designed observation sheets. A variety of activities with electronic and printed maps was designed to help the children reorganize their beliefs and expand their ideas and representations about maps as a means of communication. They were trained in the proper use of maps, meaning that they were familiarized with reading and interpreting visual information presented in symbolic form on maps. The project was integrated into the weekly program of the kindergartens for a three month period and was implemented by cross-thematic, collaborative activities of a constructivist approach. The results indicate that maps should be incorporated into the early childhood curriculum as a source of visual information and that preschool children are capable of reading and producing maps provided that they have been adequately trained in their use.
|Keywords:||Visual Literacy, Maps, Kindergarten, Social Constructivism|
Kindergarten Teacher, Preschool Education, Volos, Greece
Assistant Professor, Department of Preschool Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece
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