Myself, My Home, My World: Me on the Map


This lesson plan was inspired by the book Me on the Map by Joanne Sweeny. I love old maps and enjoy using them in art.


  • Styrofoam
  • Pre-cut houses made from foam sheets
  • Ink pens
  • Paint (washable tempera)
  • Foam rollers
  • Maps or paper
Each child was given a 5×7 piece of Styrofoam and a ballpoint ink pen and asked to draw a picture of a house or something they found in their neighborhood such as a tree or garden. A few examples were on the table for inspiration, but most students jumped right in and began to draw. Younger children practiced their mark making creating rich textures with lines and dots.
When you print relief you need to carve down deep to get crisp lines. Some children naturally dug in as they drew while others needed a reminder to push a little bit harder.
One technique I encouraged was to draw a line lightly with normal pressure and then trace back over that same line a second and even third time going deeper with each pass.
The transition to printing was facilitated by the reading of the story and the use of the blow up globe and map props. The children enjoyed sharing where they have traveled and we spent time locating places on globe. The progression of the story starts with a child in her room, moves to her house, then to her street, town, state, country, and finishes at the global level…and then works backward to herself in her room. The book also finishes with asking a question that provokes awareness about people all over the world having their own special place on the map.
For printmaking I often set up two separate tables, a “dry” table where the actual transfer takes place and a “wet” table where the ink/paint is rolled on. After demonstrating how to get the right amount of paint or ink on the plate the children were given a chance try on their own.  First the children rolled paint onto their foam drawing. I reminded them to roll gently because you only want the paint on the surface when printing relief. If you press to hard with a soft roller the paint gets caught in the engraved drawing and will often print blotchy.
Some classes used hard brayers and water based printing ink while others used foam rollers and tempera. Both work well!
After rolling their foam drawing or cutouts with ink or paint they carried them to the map table for printing. I demonstrated flipping the house over, then flipping the paper and from the paper side rubbing with either a flat palm or the back of a wooden spoon to transfer the print.
The maps turned out so well and represented each child’s age and personality. Many of the children really enjoyed this activity and made multiple maps filled with little houses and even hand prints!
Its fun to let each child decide placement and order when it comes to their art….even if that means an upside down house. 🙂
Some students were content to print their engraving more than once, filling their map with their own art over and over while some took advantage of the variety and pre-cut houses.

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