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Mapping Knowledge: Concept Maps in Early Childhood Education

Author(s): Maria Birbili

Journal: Early Childhood Research & Practice
ISSN 1524-5039

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: Early Childhood Education | Concept Maps | Graphic Organizers | Young Children

Graphic organizers such as webs, time lines, Venn diagrams, flowcharts, and concept maps are well known and widely used instructional and learning tools. They help teachers and students not only to identify and visually represent their views and knowledge but also to recognize and depict relationships among concepts. This article discusses the use of concept maps in early childhood education. In light of a theory that suggests that information is processed and stored in memory in both linguistic and visual forms, it is argued that concept maps can be used in early childhood classrooms to help children organize and spatially represent both what they know and what they are thinking. Once children learn how to “read” and make concept maps, teachers can also use them to identify children’s preexisting knowledge or misconceptions as well as use them as an evaluation tool. The article also considers the role of concept maps in teacher planning. Concept maps can help teachers to plan, structure, and sequence the content of their teaching. Finally, the article illustrates some of the issues involved in using concept maps with preschool children and suggests ways of introducing children to the process of constructing their own concept maps.
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