Pack your art supply bag and take a calming breath – we’re going on a journey through memories to create our own memory maps – and you can join us right from the comfort of your favorite cozy chair!
Born from memories of favorite places, these lovely little collages pull double creative duty – they’re a mixed media art project you can turn into a fun tool or prompt to help kids apply calming visualization techniques, explore nature, try practical life map-reading, practice creative storytelling and much, much more!
One thing I’ve realized after weeks stuck inside is that my sense of “home” extends far beyond the walls of my actual house. Having spent the last few weeks missing some of our favorite places, I decided to re-create them in 2D form. And because I can RARELY leave an art project at that, I took it one step further to make them into simple little games that can be used in all sorts of variations!
Making maps from memory is a fantastic exercise in visual literacy, storytelling, and spatial recognition, and the opportunity to use different art processes offers so much room for material and texture exploration! Although it can be incredibly fun to see how close you got to recreating your backyard, accuracy isn’t the point of this activity.
We used pre-made printable textures + a few standard craft supplies for an art process that was an exploration of texture, mediums, and mark-making inspired by some of my favorite artists and illustrators (see Christian Robinson, Clover Robin, and Kellen Hatanaka among others…!). But there are literally a MILLION and one ways to make maps. Doodled drawings, stamped shape maps, blocks on butcher paper – find your own favorite tools!
The memory of a favorite place is all you need to make your own. The backyard, grandma’s house, a favorite park, campground, or fantastical dream getaway! Individually or as a set, these textured beauties are so beautiful simply as kid-made art, but read through to the end for tons of ideas to help you turn your finished memory maps into interactive tools for play…
To make your own memory map collages you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- A piece of construction paper or heavy cardstock for the backing
- Scrap paper
- A glue stick
- Crayons, colored pens or pencils, or other drawing & painting supplies
- Small stones or rocks
Kids Memory Map Collage Instructions:
- Gather your supplies and pick a background
One of the best parts of this collage is that it gives kids the opportunity to explore interesting texture combinations. Patterned papers, newspaper, paper bags, tin foil, and parchment are all wonderful things to combine with regular construction paper or cardstock for lots of rich added texture.
- Cut and paste simple shapes to create the base of your landscapes
Use your memory and imagination to begin building the base of your landscapes. What are you going to make? Your backyard? A relative’s home? The zoo? A park? Or maybe it’s someplace you’ve imagined…it’s totally up to you!
Cut out simple shapes from the textures to create the backgrounds and beginnings of your landscapes. Think about BIG pieces of the landscape. Where is there grass, sidewalk, or road? Is there a big garden, pond, lake or fence?
Beyond sights, are there sounds, smells, or textures that come to mind? How can you depict those things on your map?
- Try making your own textures on paper
Once you have the larger pieces of your landscape glued onto your background, you can start adding details. This is a great opportunity to use some different art tools to make your own textures.
A dry toothbrush or brush can create interesting scratchy wide columns of color when dragged across the surface, or soft speckles when flicked over paper. Chalk or oil pastels make great rock textures, and a white pencil scribbled on colored paper really stands out!
- Paste on all your collage pieces and add hand-drawn details
Once your own textured paper has dried, cut out your smaller details and paste them to your collage with a glue stick. Stand back and look at your composition once you’ve finished. You can add interesting touches or more detailed elements with a colored pencil, white chalk. or stick of charcoal.
- Create your scavenger hunt direction sheet and markers
If you’re going to use your map for a scavenger hunt (virtual or real!) obstacle course, or activity as we did, you can make your simple direction sheet from a small square of scrap paper.
Cut out 2 sets of circles in 3-5 (or more!) colors. Paste one set onto your direction sheet, and the rest of the circles onto small stones or rocks.
*Note: Instead of using color-coded circles on your rocks, you can put stickers, add people or paste other small details onto the rocks so you can move them around the map!*
- Place your rocks on your landscape and write in directions for each location
Now it’s time to create your scavenger hunt (for you or someone else!). You can reference our suggestions below or come up with your own game.
- Have fun!
Time to play! Some of our ideas involve taking your collages outside to match real-world places with scavenger hunt directions or collaged locations. You may want to slip your collage into a sheet protector before you head out to keep things tidy and protect these mini works of art!
When coming up with themes for our virtual “scavenger hunt” we quickly realized the possibilities for combining your collaged landscape with unique variations on the typical scavenger hunt or obstacle course are truly endless…
Map Scavenger Hunt Theme Ideas:
CREATE A COLLAGE OF YOUR OWN BACKYARD AND…
- Make a list of exercises/natural things to find or look for. Mark real-life “station” locations on the 2D map with a rock (for instance list “3 jumping jacks” and place a rock next to the pine tree in the backyard to indicate where the “jumping jack station” is). Take your map outside and go through the stations!
- Share memories. Place rock markers on 3-5 locations on the collage. Ask your child to share their favorite thing about each spot, or see how many things about that location they can describe from memory.
- Create a series of calming, meditative exercises (things like, “take 10 deep breaths”). Place one of your color-coded rocks onto your map. Ask your child to visualize that place in the backyard, then complete the calming prompt that matches it. You can take this outside, or simply use it as a visualization aid while sitting together in a quiet place, adding rocks to the map together.
CREATE A COLLAGED LANDSCAPE OF A FAVORITE PLACE AND…
- Develop a language memory matching activity. Write down descriptions of places on your scavenger hunt. Let your child lay the rocks next to the locations described.
- A visual memory matching activity. Instead of using color-coded circles, paste drawings of small items or details onto the rocks and have your child match them to the place they belong on the map. or You could also use animal (or other themed) stickers!
- Use your rock markers to tell a story. Write out a list of story prompts and place rocks to indicate the location where that part of the story could take place. You could also cut out photographs of family members’ faces, pictures, etc., and move them around the map as the story progresses.
CREATE A COLLAGED LANDSCAPE FROM IMAGINATION AND…
- Build imagination through naming. Give the places on your map creative names and ask someone to match the places on the collage with the names by placing a rock marker on the correct location.
- Use your collage to create a story-telling game for 2 or more kids. After a rock is placed, the next person in the group tells a story about that location. When done, they place the next rock for the next person in the circle.
No matter how you decide to use your collages, I hope you have fun re-creating the places where you feel most at home! They’re a little reminder that our imaginations offer a unique way to “visit” when real life doesn’t feel like cooperating.
If these little landscapes are right up your alley, you can try making one from torn paper, create fairy playscapes from playdough, or use cardboard and paper to make your own BIG foldout city landscape for play!
This project works well for older kids, but little ones might enjoy our simpler free printable nature scavenger hunt!
*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!