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#1
Dennis McClendon

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As I briefly mentioned in my NACIS talk on Highly Stylized Maps, I'm working on maps of five US cities for a publisher of "boardbooks" that are intended to be read by two- or three-year-olds with their parents. I'm taking a lot of liberties with the geography, but still trying to make them "real maps." For one thing, I'm trying to keep them planimetric, and use footprints rather than mixing in side views of landmarks. Here are Chicago and Washington. Any comments are welcome.

But next up is Los Angeles. The publisher and I are agreed that we want that to actually be a regional map of the Southland stretching from Magic Mountain to Disneyland, and that the big features to be shown are the mountains that divide Southern California. The new word I learned at NACIS is typify, using a simplified but non-abstract symbol for a group of similar objects. So I'm trying to think of creative ways to typify the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains. Obviously, I think contours are a bit much for toddlers to understand, and hachures get very complicated for me to do. So far, my only idea is to create some "mountains" from aluminum foil or paper, light it to give shaded relief, and then photograph it. I wonder if anyone has any other ideas.

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Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#2
Derek Tonn

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Dennis,

One thing I immediately thought about when you mentioned Maps for Toddlers in your NACIS session was that the map(s) still looked much too oriented to an adult audience. Kids want VISUAL, casual/fun...logos and pictures, etc...and stuff like the words "Wrigley Field" doesn't mean anything to them since a VAST majority of preschoolers cannot read! :P However, put in an illustration or photo of the Cubs' bear mascot, a baseball player batting a ball, and a copy of the Cubs logo in there, and you're probably communicating with or reaching a dramatically larger percentage of the demographic.

My six-year old daughter loves to see "what mommy and daddy do," and she occasionally loves to take a crack at making a map design. Seeing how a six-year old draws a map of her town or her State compared to how a cartographer might THINK she would depict it is an incredibly interesting experience! One really interesting thing with your project would be to ask a few 5 or 6 year olds how they might draw a map for their 2-3 year old younger brother or sister...then see the results you would get. I all but guarantee though that what they come up with would be a LOT more visual in nature.
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#3
Derek Tonn

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One other related but expanded thought I had after thinking a bit more about this topic: It might be fun to have a "case study" or experiment that a few of us could participate in that would require us to make a map of a small area with only one rule of conduct: No text of any kind is allowed. :) Something kids could understand with a bit of help from Mom and Dad...but ALSO with an unintended positive side-effect for people who do not speak the predominant native language being able to have at least some semblance of where things are as well.

Might be a fun little experiment! Just a thought...
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#4
rudy

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I agree with Derek. Where you can, drop the text and make it visual. In my mind, an ideal map for young children would be something along the lines of what's on the inside covers of a books series that follows the adventures of Poppleton the pig (do a search for Poppleton; I couldn't find an image of the inside cover). This is an oblique shot of a town that shows all the relevant locations that occur in the story, along with some amusing little details. This, I know, requires more artistic skills than cartographic skill and it would certainly be beyond my abilities.

#5
Hans van der Maarel

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Might be a fun little experiment! Just a thought...


Sounds interesting. I'm in! Did you have something specific in mind?
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#6
loximuthal

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As the parent of a three-year-old and a six-year-old (and a thirteen-year-old who likes to draw his own maps), I've really got to agree with Derek about the benefits of using pictures/icons for the landmarks to communicate with the pre-school set. For instance, you could use a lion to mark the zoo in DC (they've got two big lion statues flanking the main entrance - kind of like the NY Public Library) BTW, I think the zoo is due north of the Lincoln Memorial; it certainly is not along the Potomac.
Andy McIntire
US Census Bureau

#7
TanyaJ

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I make maps for my kids, 4 and 1 ½. What a blast, that is a dream of mine to actually publish children’s maps! My oldest has made his own maps to his cousin’s house which is 23 miles away. Very interesting to see his concept of space or lack there of, land marks are what matter to him. My youngest loves roads and ‘drives’ her finger along them. She loves the fish in the water and always points out the book we have placed on the library. Enjoy and have fun, it’s definitely different trying to think like a preschooler.

Tanya
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#8
DaveB

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So I'm trying to think of creative ways to typify the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains. Obviously, I think contours are a bit much for toddlers to understand, and hachures get very complicated for me to do. So far, my only idea is to create some "mountains" from aluminum foil or paper, light it to give shaded relief, and then photograph it. I wonder if anyone has any other ideas.

Following along with what Derek and Rudy, et al., have said I think the way to go is to make them very visual. I think side view (maybe from a height) would be the way to go if you want to make it easier for the kids to read the map. If you're aiming for a more sophisticated look like your DC and Chicago maps I think that'll be trickier, maybe something along the lines of Tom Patterson's plan oblique relief?

Interesting topic.
I distinctly remember not being able to "read" a map when I was 5 or 6 years old (traumatic memories! lol).
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
Map Geek

#9
MapMedia

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No text of any kind is allowed.


Make a map without typography? No fun! :P

#10
Matthew Hampton

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Here is one...


Posted Image

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#11
Dennis McClendon

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The rest of the book is full of pictures of the buildings and stadiums mentioned, and the publisher envisions the books as generally being "read" by an adult pointing things out. The map is a way to introduce kids to the idea of a planimetric representation of the world. For that reason, I specifically wanted to avoid any kind of side-view or axonometric representation of the features. Kids have no problem with the concept that to get from the circle representing the zoo to the rectangle representing the museum, the fingertip representing a vehicle has to move along the line representing a road. Their video games reinforce this, with even Diddy Kong racing always having a planimetric representation of the racecourse in one corner.

One of my nieces endeared herself to me at an early age by asking, looking out the plane window at section line roads and rivers, "is the whole world like a map?"
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#12
Derek Tonn

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The map is a way to introduce kids to the idea of a planimetric representation of the world. For that reason, I specifically wanted to avoid any kind of side-view or axonometric representation of the features. Kids have no problem with the concept that to get from the circle representing the zoo to the rectangle representing the museum, the fingertip representing a vehicle has to move along the line representing a road. Their video games reinforce this, with even Diddy Kong racing always having a planimetric representation of the racecourse in one corner.


Even if you avoid the use of bird's eye/oblique/axonometric for those designs, my primary suggestion was to find ways to try and use more images, less text. Seeing the footprint of a stadium and then saying it is "Wrigley Field" doesn't do much to communicate what it is to preschoolers who cannot read. Even if you have lots of photos/logos/iconography throughout the rest of the piece, will a 3-4 year old be able to understand and make the correlation between what they've seen on other pages or sections of the books and where those elements are located in physical space via the supporting map designs?

I can tell my almost-three year old "Burns Avenue" or "North" and she'll look at me with a blank stare, even if I've mentioned those things to her 50 times in the past. However, I can tell her "Rusty's house" (neighbor's dog) or "that funny looking tree with the hole by the red house where the squirrels like to hide their nuts" and she knows EXACTLY where in town/space I am referring to and where we are going. And how to get there.

Kind of funny that way sometimes. Cartography, the profession, is SO hell-bent upon forcing planimetric depictions with North always being on-top in its classrooms and designs...yet that is not how a LOT of people are naturally inclined to navigate their world. Those are things that are learned and in some cases FORCED on people (out of a desire to not look/feel stupid or for the simple lack of other viable alternatives). Why that is the case though? That's a LONG, probably unpleasant conversation... :)
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com




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