DIY Bird’s Eye View Pre-Mapping Work from our Montessori Homeschool Preschool

We’ve been doing this work for a few years now, and it’s always a hit! While I’ve posted about it several times on Instagram, I recently realized that I never wrote up DIY instructions for it. So here we go! [Step-by-step directions at the bottom of this post.]

We call this bird’s eye view pre-mapping work “the kitchen work” because we are currently using kitchen dollhouse furniture, but it originated as “the living room work.”

I found a nice plain tray that looked almost like a hardwood floor on the base. Then I took some dollhouse furniture (actually an older version of this Calico Critters set) and arranged it in several different configurations on the tray, taking a bird’s eye view photo each time. The objective of the work is to replicated on the tray what is pictured on the cards — down to the tiniest detail. This pre-mapping work is great for spatial reasoning skills.

After a while, simply replicating the scene became too easy — so we added some command cards. The first time we did it, I held one picture card and verbally gave commands for where to place each object. Then we moved on to written commands like, “Put two red pillows on the couch.” Nora read each command and arranged the room to match the description — then we switched! This really challenged her reading and writing skills in a fun way — a great way to encourage your reluctant reader/writer!

After a few months, we changed out the living room setting and made it “the kitchen work” with this kitchen and dining room set from our dollhouse. Nora set up 8 different scenes and we took bird’s eye view photos of them. I printed them out to make new cards, and now we have a brand new work! In its most recent iteration — arranging the scene based on written command cards — we’re working on mapping skills, spatial awareness, writing skills, and prepositions.

DIY Bird’s Eye View Pre-Mapping Work instructions:

  • Find some dollhouse furniture and a suitable tray.
  • Arrange the furniture into a scene. Take a bird’s eye view photo. Repeat 6-10 times.
  • Upload the photos to your computer and put them into a Microsoft Word Document. I like to make the cards about 3×4 inches.
  • Print on cardstock and cut out each card.
  • Place the furniture in a basket on the tray and add the photo cards.

For more mapping work, check these posts: