Mapping the World Freehand Mapping and Children's Understanding of Geography Concepts




Lowes, Susan

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


This exploratory research on freehand maps drawn by elementary school children argues that such "conjured" maps not only provide insights into how students acquire geography place knowledge, but also reveals the development of a series of cognitive understandings that are necessary components of geography literacy. We focus on three key concepts that students need in order to draw what we consider to be traditional maps: the shape of the objects in the maps, the orientation of these shapes in relation to each other, and the nesting of objects within objects. After describing these concepts in detail, we analyze maps drawn by 3rd and 4th grade students in six New York City classrooms in order to show that these concepts develop over time, although not at the same pace, but that they are influenced by the academic levels of the students and by the extent of geography teaching in their classrooms.



geography, freehand mapping, geography concepts, geography learning, geography teaching


Lowes, S. (2008). Mapping the world freehand mapping and children's understanding of geography concepts. Research in Geographic Education, 10(2), pp. 66-100.


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