By Corinne Swanson, Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs, Connecticut Historical Society
I’m a huge fan of maps. When studying history, maps are essential for getting a visual, concrete understanding of the places where events take place. They can be incredibly powerful in influencing the way we think (Remember the episode of “The West Wing” where C.J. Cregg is lobbied to by the ‘Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality’? For those who missed it, Greenland is not actually bigger than Africa).
On a personal level, maps help me get my bearings every time I move to a new place. As someone who has lived in multiple states and cities, maps offer me a way to place and center myself in a new environment and see the big picture.
This Saturday, at our Free First Saturday family program, “Connecticut is our Home”, kids and their families will get a chance to place themselves in the state of Connecticut. We’ll have a large fabric “map” of Connecticut, where landmarks and cities and features will all be filled in by kids.
The inspiration for this program came from this January’s family program, where kids were given a blank city map, and given boxes and craft supplies to make the buildings for this city. The creativity we saw that day was amazing. There were houses and apartment buildings, but there were also radio stations, solar panels, museums, pet shops, tea stores, and a spaceship-landing pad added to our box city.
After seeing what the kids came up with, I thought it would be a great idea to offer a program where kids could once again create their own map. Sometimes kids add familiar things, like their school or the park by their house. But other times, imagination takes over and, as we saw in January, we end up with a colorful riverfront bakery with a dock for boat drivers to pull up to when they’re craving a fresh pastry.
I’m hoping the same thing happens this Saturday: that reality and imagination will mix on our map to make a “what-if” Connecticut. We’ll be providing all the art supplies – we’re just asking kids to bring their creativity!
Bring your kids to help out with our family program this Saturday, May 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This program is free! For more information, call (860) 236-5621 x222 or email me at [email protected]. Thanks to Berkshire Bank for support of this program.
About the Author
A firm believer that knowledge and interpretation of history shapes our understanding of our world and ourselves, Corinne Swanson actively supports history engagement for all ages. As Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs at the Connecticut Historical Society, she manages family programs, scout programs, and other non-school children activities, as well as teaching the organization’s many school programs both at the CHS museum and around Connecticut. She has a B.A. in History, with a particular interest in social history.