Early Literacy in Everyday Places – The Mall, Part 2

Last month we discussed how to incorporate early literacy activities during your trip to the mall. This month we take it one step further.

Reading the Directory

Once you've parked and are ready to go, make sure to stop by the mall directory. This is a great place to go over directions, as well as setting up a meeting place in case you become separated. Spatial literacy and being able to read a map are crucial literacy skills for navigating through the world. Spatial literacy skills allow your child to be able to think visually and interpret location, distance, direction and change of movement. Have your child be ready with these three questions whenever approaching a map or directory: where are you, where do you want to go, how do you get there?

  • Point out the nearest store to the directory, then show your child how to look it up on the directory. Explain that stores in the mall are categorized based on what they sell. Food, clothes, entertainment, etc.
  • Ask them to tell you what the nearest store is selling and see if they can guess which category it belongs to on the directory.
  • Once you've located the store on the directory listing, show your child where the store is on the map.
  • Explain that some directories have a "You Are Here" sticker to indicate current location.
  • Explain the different icons and what they represent. Show your child the map Legend and explain that these icons are symbols for different stores. Find the icon for bathroom, or the icon for food. Have your child count how many bathroom icons there are on the map.

  • If you know what store you want to find, have your child again guess what category the store falls under and see if they can locate it on the directory listing.
  • Once you've found the listing, look for it together on the map and trace out your path. Try to look for the names of stores you'll be passing on the way.
  • Many directories are now touch screen. Let your child experiment by searching for different retailers.
  • As you walk to your destination, play a game and have your child count how many kiosks you pass, or how many shoe stores you pass on the way.
  • Stop by another directory midway and see if your child can find your current location. See if they can trace the path to your next stop.

Suggested Titles

(Don't forget that these books can count for your 1000 Books Before Kindergarten log.)

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz (J Picture Book Shulevitz)
As he spends hours studying his father's world map, a young boy escapes the hunger and misery of refugee life.

Treasure by Suzanne Bloom (J Picture Book Bloom)
When Bear follows Goose on what he thinks is a treasure hunt, they make a wonderful discovery.

Kat's Maps by Jon Scieszka
Kat, who loves to make maps of all sorts of places and things, gives a special map to Jack.

How I Learned Geography coverTreasure coverKat's Maps cover