Screenshot of 3 dropped pins and labels on Map Explore map and text

Map Explore: Creating Customized Maps with Customized Questions

Create maps of local areas specifically for your student and create questions appropriate for your student!

Now you can created customized, accessible maps to support your O&M lessons! Want to create a simple neighborhood map of your student’s neighborhood with surrounding streets and label a couple of friends’ houses? How about a map that includes a broader area around your student’s home, school or local downtown area? The power of Map Explore is that YOU can create maps of local areas and you can choose what is included on each map. These maps can be designed to reinforce a specific O&M skill on your student’s current level. Pins can be added to label areas on the map that are important to your lesson – without an overwhelming amount of pins that are standard with most map applications. You can choose to add only a handful of pins for beginner students or add more pins for students with advanced skills. And now, you can even Include customized questions to guide the lesson or to confirm your student’s knowledge!

Sounds complicated, right? Not at all! The process of creating a customized map and questions is easy – even for someone who is not tech-savvy! Make a map by simply dropping pins and adding a labels. Type in a questions and answers. Done!

Tips for Creating the Student’s First Map

As always, consider the goal of the map, the student’s O&M skills, and the student’s tech skills before creating a map. Remember, this technology is new for your student; even advanced O&M students and tech savvy students will need a few minutes to explore the map before using the map for O&M purposes.

For the first map, set your student up for success by creating a simple map – preferably a map of an area that your student is already familiar with. The goal of this first map is to teach the digital map skills, so keep it simple! The student will first need to learn how to trace a sonified street, listen for announcements and find pins, before he/she is able to use the map to build skills.

Once the student has learned to explore the digital map, expand the map or create more complex maps.


Creating a Customized Map

After the student’s introduction to Map Explore, the goal of the map is to enable student to explore the streets and pins of important buildings/areas in the student’s local environment to help the student build a mental map. Students will learn the street names, important buildings/areas, and the spatial relationships of these streets and areas. Map Explore is intended for pre-viewing a location before a feet-in-the-street O&M lesson. Maps can also be made for other locations, not just local areas. Is your student going on a trip, visiting college campuses, or simply interested in learning about other communities? The possibilities are endless! As Dr. Seuss says, “Oh the places you’ll go!”

Step-by-step video tutorial demonstrating how to create a custom map with labels:

Note: Directions . . . . You can use this text box to define a specific term when teaching/practice a new goal. Example: If the lesson is about T-intersections, you can chose to include the definition of a T-intersection here.

General Tips When Creating Customized Maps

Screenshot of Google Map with Sheriff's Office labeled and pin by the street with annotation,

Progressive Map-Related Lessons

To create progressive maps/lessons, create a “basic” map for the initial lesson. The basic map can then be edited to teach different concepts or to dive deeper into the concept. (If editing a map, be sure to give a different name to the edited map!) The first map could use the default questions. (Default questions only ask the student to find a specific location on the map.) The second map might have additional pins and customized questions; the second map could be used to teach a different O&M concept, such as learning to spatially organize buildings/landmarks by quadrants.

If the young student is learning a new area, the student might learn a block or two around his house or school. Once the student has developed a good mental map of that area, expand the area to include additional blocks; be sure to additional pins. With the example of Kevin’s Neighborhood and School Map, the map has 6 pins. These pins were carefully chosen as landmarks along the streets between Kevin’s house and his school. These landmarks are useful when Kevin physically walks the route to/from school. Note that only pins along that route were used in this basic map; no pins were dropped on outlier streets. Several of the landmarks provide unique auditory clues such as the baseball field and tennis courts. Blossoms Flowers located on a strategic corner provides an olfactory clue, as there are always flowering plants outside of the shop.

Creating Customized Questions

After adding pins to the map, select the desired options in the template and write your customized questions.

There are currently four types of questions to choose from. If you are using the map to teach a specific goal, you may decide to use only one type of question. (Example: If the goal is for the student to learn to organize landmarks by regions, you can add only “region” questions. Region questions have divided the map into four quadrants (northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest). Students only tap in the correct ‘region’ of the map to get a correct answer.)

When creating the questions, the O&M can determine if streets are announced or not. I typically choose to have the streets announced, so the student can use these announcements to associate pins with the nearby streets.

Four question types:

Note: North is always at the top of the screen and Map Explore maps are always in portrait mode.

Note: Currently, the questions are limited to these four types of questions and answers. O&M’s can verbal ask the student more complex questions such as:

O&Ms can create a map that includes additional information such as a bus stop, traffic light controlled intersections, auditory landmarks, etc. Remember, these are CUSTOM maps!

Step-by-step video tutorial demonstrating how to create a custom questions, steps to save the map, and how to assign the map to a student:

Note: The Map Description can be more specific that what was in the video. A Map Description might be, “Student will practice mental mapping skills by exploring the map of his neighborhood and school. After exploring the map, the student will be asked to find specific locations and double tap on them.”


General Tips When Creating Customized Questions

Enabling O&Ms to quickly create maps to support O&M lessons, is a game changer! The possibilities of how these maps can be used are truly endless!


By Diane Brauner

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