Museum Classroom: Mapping Your Neighbourhood

  • Lesson: Mapping Your Neighbourhood
  • Topic: Community Mapping & Exploration
  • Curriculum Links: Observation, Mapping Terminology, Map Making, Representational Art
  • Grades: 1-8

Materials Required:

  • Paper (letter size or larger)
  • A market to draw outlines
  • Pencil crayons


Your neighbourhood is an important piece of your community. By taking a closer look at your neighbourhood, and mapping the places and spaces it is made up of, you can consider how it looks and feels, how it is designed, what it contains, and how it has changed.

A good way to take a closer look at your neighbourhood, is to take a walk and really observe. You can get an eye for the places and spaces that make up your neighbourhood, how it is shaped, and think of new ideas to make it an even better place to live.

By mapping the physical place in your neighbourhood, you can understand how you belong in your community.

Part I – Take a Walk!

A row of houses on Junkin Street, 1937.

First, take a slow and mindful walk around your neighbourhood with a parent/guardian. Maybe your neighbourhood is one street, maybe its several and includes many places – this is up to you. Take time to observe the shape of your neighbourhood.

Bring along a note pad to jot down the following observations, or write down your observations once you get home:

  • Notice the places and spaces that make up your neighbourhood and write them down. These can includes roads, sidewalks, trails, houses, apartment buildings, parks, schools, shops, churches, or maybe a baseball diamond or library. Make note of anything you see!
  • Use all your senses in your observation! What is the feeling of your neighbourhood? Are there certain smells? What colours stand out to you? Is there a place that reminds you of certain tastes?

Part II – Make a Map!

Now that you’ve taken time to observe your neighbourhood more closely, create a map to represent the places that make up your community. Draw your map in birds-eye-view to give a broader perspective of your neighbourhood.

  1. First, create your map legend. A map legend is a collection of symbols needed to read a map. Your legend will help you read the symbols you choose to represent the features, places, and information you decide to include on the map.
    • A symbol is an object that represents something else. It can be a picture or a drawing, a shape, a letter, a colour or a number.
    • On a map, all of the symbols are collected together to form the map legend.
First, draw a space for your map legend. Then begin to draw a birds-eye-view of your neighbourhood.

2. Draw the streets, pathways, or trails you use to navigate your neighbourhood. Be sure to mark these with symbols in your legend.

3. Next draw the built places that members of your community can visit, spend time in, or shop at. These can include libraries, community centres, places of worship, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, or other retail.

4. Draw the open spaces that make up your neighbourhood, likes parks, gardens, baseball diamonds, or parking lots.

5. Map the houses and buildings where your neighbours live. You can draw trees or other features of these spots.

6. Can you recall what your other senses picked-up during your walk? Map the colours that make up your neighbourhood. You can even depict the smells, tastes, or feelings that are special to your neighbourhood!

7. Make special markings for the places that mean the most to you. For example, you may mark your home, your friends or family in your neighbourhood, your school, or place of worship.

Wrap-up Discussion

Now that you’ve taken a closer look at your neighborhood and mapped the places and spaces that make up where you live, consider the following questions:

  • What do you like about the shape of your neighbourhood and the places, spaces, smells, and tastes you find here? What do you wish were different?
  • If you could draw a map of your dream neighbourhood, what would you include on the map?

One comment

Leave a Reply