Map Fun: Creating a Visual Itinerary

Carol Shen

Carol Shen

Guest blogger Carol Shen, is a stay at home mom of two, creator of the blog, Blueberry Mom and serves on the Board of Directors of The Reading Connection. She'll be sharing her kids' learning adventures on Start with a Book inspired topics like gardening, the night sky, If I were President, and other ideas she and her kids are excited to explore.


August 30, 2016

Shen family trip to France

This summer we traveled to France for a friend’s wedding and the Tour de France. It was a trip that included a long road trip with multiple stops. I thought a fun way to get the kids excited about the trip would be a map exercise: creating a visual itinerary to help the kids understand where we were going and what we’d be seeing.

It gave us an excuse to check out some books about France, and made for a fun map building and geography exercise. I quickly realized that this visual itinerary works for just about any type of excursion, whether it’s a multi-city road trip, or a multi-stop trip downtown.

What you’ll need

Mapping materials

  • Paper, pencil and colored pencils
  • Optional: Book(s) about maps such as Follow that Map! and books about where you will be visiting
  • Optional: Computer and printer

Websites such as or make it easy for you to find the map of a country, region or state to use. You can also use Google Images to find what you’re looking for.

Let's get started

Addie's map of France

  • I went to to print out an outline of France.
  • Addie titled her map. She also drew the French flag on her map.
  • We identified the cities that we’d be driving to, and she added them to her map. She used a star to represent the capital of France, Paris.
  • We talked about what we’d be doing in each city, and what the cities were famous for. This helped Addie decide what icon to put on her maps to represent the cities. Some of this information came from books we had read together such as This is Paris and a nonfiction book about France.

    For Penne D’Agenais, which was where the wedding took place, she drew a wedding ring and flowers. For Mont St. Michel, which was where the Tour de France started this summer, Addie drew a bicycle with a gift on it since we were there to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday (he is a huge cycling fan).
  • The last thing Addie added was the timeline of our trip. I told her which day of the trip we’d arrive in each of the cities.
  • There are many other things you could have your child add to their visual itinerary, such as a legend, a compass, roads, etc.


  • Follow that Map! by Scot Ritchie was a fun and interactive book that introduced the concept of maps to both my seven and four year old. Since reading this book, Addie has been eager to read maps. The other day at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History she navigated us to the Butterfly exhibit using the museum map.
  • For the younger kids, you can have them glue pictures from a magazine onto the map instead of drawing the icons.
  • I can envision this map exercise working great for visiting a city as well. For example, creating a visual itinerary for a day trip to Washington DC would be a fun way to map out the museums and monuments you plan to visit.

Learn more

  • Start with a Book’s Geography, Travel and Cultures is a great place to find books that will open the door to new adventures and experiences.
  • If you’re planning to visit Washington DC, check out Start with a Book’s Our Government section. You’ll find lots of books that can help your child understand the historical significance of our nation’s capital and how the government works.
  • Start with a Book’s Builders and Buildings is another section to check out when exploring landmarks, bridges and other architectural sites.

Addie's map of France

Summer is winding down, but there’s always something to read, talk about, and explore with your kids. Enjoy the new adventures you’ll have with your kids as we begin another school year.

All the very best,

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