Mapping For Young Children

Assessing Needs & Potential Resources

Children will think about the different parts that make up their community and categorize what they see into people, animals, and the environment.

AGES 4-6


  • Optional: Children’s books that illustrate community for people, animals and then environment
  • Poster paper, construction paper or easel pad
  • Pens, crayons, pencils, stickers, etc.
  • Tape/Glue
  • Scissors

Printable Activity Guide


Download and read our illustrated story, "My Community and Me" that highlights all the parts that make up a community.
Get "My Community and Me"


Children are given 3 sheets of paper. Guide them as they discuss their community and help them brainstorm through the following steps:

On the first sheet of paper, they draw all the places in their community that serve people. Each drawing is labeled and cut out. Guiding questions:
  • Who lives in our community?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • Where do they learn and work?
  • Where do they get their food?
  • Where do they go if they need help?
On the second sheet of paper, they are to draw all the animals in their community and the places that serve them. Each drawing is labeled and cut out. Guiding questions:
  1. What animals live here?
  2. Are there pets and wild animals in our community?
On the third sheet of paper, they are to draw all the environmental traits in their community. Each drawing is labeled and cut out. Guiding questions:
  1. What does our community look like?
  2. What kind of plants are here?
  3. Where does our community get its water?
  4. Where do we play when we go outside?

TIP: Depending on the scale of your map, it may be helpful to tell children to name the things and places they can walk to.


Everyone closes their eyes and imagines what it would be like to be a bird flying overhead. On a large piece of paper, the group draws a map of their community. The children work together to glue all the people, animal, and environmental elements to their map. As the pieces come together, discuss how the map becomes a puzzle and that each drawing is an important piece. Guiding questions:

  • Where does each animal live on our map? Where do they get their food? Where do they sleep? Does each animal have everything it needs in our community?
  • What are some ways that people help each other in our community?
  • Why do you think the plants in our community are important? What do you notice about them?

TIP: Help children orient themselves on the map by starting with your current location. Invite children to use their fingers to imagine walking to the different places on their map.


Guide children as they reflect on their community map. Begin brainstorming an area of the community where students feel they can make a difference and select a Roots & Shoots project. Guiding questions:

  • What do you like about our community?
  • Is there anything that you would change about our community?
  • Are there any people, or animals, or places that need help in our community?
  • What could we do to help our community?


Instead of drawing, children can cut images out of magazines, newspapers, etc. to build their map. OR Introduce legos, or other building blocks for children to construct a model of their community and place their drawings in the appropriate locations.

EXAMPLE: NeighBEARhood Watch Kids

Check out this video from a Roots & Shoots group in Florida that features a first-grade classroom that modified the mapping activity. They started with a group brainstorm and created a list of the people, animals, and environmental features in their community. Then, each student drew their own map that included everything on their class list.
NeighBEAR Hood Watch Kids


See how these preschool students discovered that their school could use more green space.
Greening Our Space Project

Check out Step 3: Take Action

Present your findings to your group mates and have a discussion about what you learned from your maps. Move to Step 3: Take Action to narrow down your project ideas and identify your community issue.
Step 3: Take Action
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