Map reading is such an important skill. I have talked before about why you should teach children to read a map. It is also one of my essential skills in my 20 things all parents should teach their kids. This fabulous guide from fellow Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion Glyn Dodwell introduces basic map reading in an easy and fun way.
Creating a Map
To help youngsters understand how maps work, try getting them out in the local community to create their own map.
Select an area near you with several roads and facilities such as Police Station, Railway Station, Churches, Post Office etc. Armed with paper and pencils work as a team to draw the layout of the area selected. Mark as accurately as possible the location of the various facilities. There is no need for tape measures, just get them to pace the distances and make a note of this on the drawings.
Back at home use the information gathered to create a map of your local area.
To test the quality of the map. give it to someone who does not know the area well, and ask them to navigate their way to one of the features.
How to Understand the Grid References
When you look at an Ordnance Survey map you will see that it is divided into a series of squares created by blue grid lines. These grid lines can help you locate a position on a map with great accuracy using a unique number known as a grid reference.
Each line is numbered from 00 to 99 so it is possible to select a square using the 2 digit vertical line or Eastings followed by the 2 digit horizontal line, or Northings. In the example shown Grid Square 2951 can be found by going ‘along the corridor’ until you get to vertical line 29. Then go ‘up the stairs’ to horizontal line 51. The square to above and to the left of the intersection is call ‘Grid Square 2951.
Work out the 4 figure grid references for these squares…
In order to be more accurate each of the 4 figure grid squares is further divided into 100 smaller squares, made up of 10 vertical lines and 10 horizontal lines. These lines do not appear on the map – they have to be assessed with a ruler or overlay. Each of the lines is numbered 0 to 9 and are used in the same way as the 4 figure lines – along the corridor then up the stairs.
By using the existing 4 figure line numbers and the new line numbers we can now produce a 6 figure grid reference. The highlighted square in the example shown below is 625 333.
Work out the 6 figure grid references for these squares
You can now take this new knowledge and relate it to your local area map. Ask the children to find and particular grid reference on the map. Then use the map to go and find it for real.
Glyn has been a hill-walker for 50 years, walking all over the world but particularly in Wales, Scotland and Lake District. His love for the outdoors and survival started as a young Scout, before he joined the RAF and trained in combat survival. He is also a lovely man who is always up for a chat so do pop over and say hi to him on Twitter.
Having just turned 60 himself, Glyn was surprised to see how little encouragement there is to get the ‘older generation’ out into the hills. And despite suffering from arthritis, severe pain and a stroke 2 years ago, he is a determined Champion for the greater involvement of over 60’s in hill-walking on his blog Hill Walking For The Over 60’s – It’s better to be on the hill, Than over the hill!
Not content to take it easy, Glyn is also a Radio Amateur and participates in an scheme called Summits-On-The-Air, which involves operating portable radio equipment from the tops of summits using only the equipment carried in your rucksack. You cam learn more about this hobby on his second blog G4CFS – Summits On The Air, Meteors & Satellites.