When you sit down to think about how far you’ve come on the curriculum road this school year, the ride has been incredibly long. In reading alone, you’ve gone through several genres, authors, story elements, story recall and inferential thinking, and more. Throw in math, writing, science, social studies, etc., and, phew! Talk about taking a lengthy learning journey!
A great activity for you and your students to celebrate your academic passages is to do some mind mapping. A mind map is a diagram using a central idea that branches out into related subtopics of that idea. Mind maps can use words, symbols, illustrations, or codes to represent the key word. Their graphic representations are a visually organized and structured demonstration of how much learning has happened over the course of the year.
Mind mapping is a fairly simple activity to facilitate. Give the students blank paper and their topic, and let their creativity take over. Need more directions for your map? Follow these and see where the mind maps take your students:
1. Make sure the central idea/key word is in the center of the paper. Students can write the word boldly, draw a picture, or use a cut-out to make the main idea clear.
2. Use a different color for each branch of the map.
3. Make smaller branches off the main branches. Try to color coordinate the branches so that it is apparent which branch they belong to.
4. Use words, pictures, or symbols to illustrate the subtopics and their branches until all ideas are represented.
5. Concentrate on the kids’ creativity and thinking processes during this route to learning, not appearance or neatness of the maps.
This is a great activity to promote cooperation and community building. The kids can work jointly together to identify, organize, and illustrate the information for their mind maps, hopefully sparking some fun memories in the process. Plus, then you have some great informational posters for your next year’s class to examine at the beginning of the year.
To extend the project, you could even have the students then illustrate a bulletin board border to use in your room next year or write a Top 10 List of their favorite topics or activities that could also be shared with future students, or create their own memory lane posters to bring home as a souvenirs of the travels they took in your classroom. The possibilities with mind maps are endless—how would you use them to guide your students?
About the Author
Jeanette Moreau is an elementary school counselor who is learning the value of connecting with other counselors via social networking. She blogs at Ms. Moreau’s Musings, where she shares her school’s guidance activities with the school community. Follow her on Twitter at @MsMoreau_Guid.