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I have recently returned from a family road trip to the center of North America!  We discovered this landmark on the way to our campsite, my daughter began asking questions and more related questions. Obviously, her social studies skills were a bit lacking. We had a great discussion and hope you will find these helpful when you begin a discussion with your own students.

Our Road Trip Vocabulary/Discussion

GPS- What exactly does GPS stand for? A Global Positing System. These were first used in military operations. We then began talking about Drones and Satellites. Be prepared!

NEVER EAT SOGGY WAFFLES!  What?  This fun saying helps students to remember Cardinal Directions: North, East, South, and West. These give directions similar to left and right.

Map-What’s that? My daughter grew up with car navigation systems and we rarely use maps. This was a fun chance for her to find locations on our road trip.

What’s that mound of rocks? Oh, you mean “Landmark”? Landmark- A spot that has significance in history or geography.

After we had a discussion, we had her experiment with some fun activities to continue her learning.


Road Signs: As you are traveling, have your child discover road sign colors. See if they can come up with the different colors and their meanings.

  • Green is for general direction or color of exits.
  • Brown is for Public recreation areas or scenic landmarks
  • Blue is used for services.
  • Orange is used for construction.
  • Red is for stop or not allowed
  • Yellow is for caution.

I found resources on Big Universe to also be helpful when teaching my daughter about maps and landmarks. Here is a fun activity found in Using Digital Maps by Adrienne Matteson (author), Kathleen Petelinsek (illustrator) ISBN: 9781624311956.

Finding Locations

  1. Select a few landmarks or places that you plan to visit without using a state.  Search by  names only.
  2. Record your results.
  3. Try searching by the exact address.
  4. Compare your findings.
  5. Ask yourself which was more effective?  Is there a one that works better? Can you think of times when you would use both searches?

Getting Directions

  1. Search a familiar location and get directions from your home to that location.
  2. Add additional stops and plot your route.
  3. Add some additional “Rules” like don’t double back or cross the same route.
  4. Compare multiple routes and see which one is faster.

Discuss Privacy Issues

Recently Snap chat added a new feature called “Snap Map”. This allows you to basically drop pins at locations. Fun in theory, but can be used for other harmful purposes. Talk to your children about privacy settings, stalking, and even bullying.

With miles and miles of open roads, hopefully you will have plenty of time for discussion and building memories. Happy Road Tripping!

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