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Exploring Geography with ‘Where I Live’ Stacking Cups Activity

Nov 24, 2017

As an elementary school teacher, I’ve always loved helping my students explore geography concepts and how they, as an individual, ‘fit' onto the map. My daughter has been asking lots of questions lately about where ‘home’ actually is since we have recently moved. So it was the perfect time to pull out one of my favourite activities — 'Where I Live' stacking cups. While understanding how we’re a part of many geographical locations at different levels (our neighbourhood, our city, our province, etc.) is a big concept, these cups allow little ones to have a concrete visualization of their location in our vast universe. 


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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • print the ‘where I live’ printable PDF
  • a set of nesting cups or plastic cups (I always wash these out after birthday parties to be reused at a later date)
  • a pencil
  • a black fine liner (optional)
  • pencil crayons
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Supplies: printed pdf, pencil crayons, cups, scissors and black marker.

Though it depicts how an American child fits onto the map, the book Me On the Map by Joan Sweeney is a fantastic addition to this activity if you have it on hand.

If you have the book, I’d start this activity by reading it with your little one. If you don’t have it, not to worry — you can start the project by simply chatting about where you live, looking at a globe or map together, or by reading a different geography-inspired book of your choice. 

Little girl colouring.

Take out your ‘where I live’ printable and help your little one draw a small illustration of themselves and complete the sentence, 'My name is _________.'  Of course all kiddos are different and your little one may need no help at all. Following your little one’s interest and pace, work your way through their bedroom, house, street, neighbourhood and so on.

When it comes time to illustrate and name your village, town, or city, help your little one determine the option that best fits where you live. The others can just be left blank, or crossed out if your little one prefers. The same goes for any of the other boxes you’d prefer to leave out this time around. If ‘neighbourhood' doesn’t really work for your location, skip it! If you don’t want to go as far as the planet level — leave it!  Do what works best for you and your little one.

Printable pdf with cut-out boxes.

When you’re ready, invite your little one to cut out their location boxes.

Next glue the location boxes onto the cups. Using a generous layer of glue and making sure to get all the way to the edges, stick each paper onto its own cup. If you’re using a set of nesting cups for this project, removable scotch tape is probably a better adhesive option.

Little girl glues cut-outs onto plastic cups.

Allow the glue to dry fully and voila! You have a personalized set of ‘where I live’ cups that show exactly where your little one lives!

Plastic cups all lined up.

How you use your set of stacking cups is up to you; they can be arranged in order in a line on the table or floor, they can be stacked from the smallest to the largest (or the largest to the smallest), or they can be used as props while your child talks about his or her place on the map: ‘My name is Gracen and I have a cozy bedroom in my house. My house number is 2304 and my street is…’ 

Little girl stacks cups.

However they’re used, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a little one with a better understanding of where they live afterwards, which makes the project a total success!

Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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