Recognizing Geographic and Spatial Learning in Children's Drawings




Todd, Reese H.

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


Geography education is more than reciting place names and locations, but practicing elementary teachers have limited experiences in extending geography learning and spatial knowledge beyond these boundaries. Demonstration lessons that involved university faculty, certification students, and classroom teachers used aerial imagery to teach second grade students geography concepts. Teachers observed that young learners gained understanding of distance, direction, location, and scale; however, when they analyzed student drawings, teachers lacked skills in recognizing the geographic and spatial knowledge represented in student work. This article introduces an evaluation tool to assist classroom teachers in interpreting visual responses in terms of a) perspective, b) symmetry, c) geometric shapes and patterns, and d) direction and location. This tool, coupled with a teaching demonstration model, supports teachers in identifying student spatial knowledge and using that data in planning content-rich instruction in elementary social studies classes beyond place names and locations.



geography, spatial learning, aerial imagery, rural schools


Todd, R.H. (2009). Recognizing geographic and spatial learning in children's drawings. Research in Geographic Education, 11(1), pp. 58-75.


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