Screenshot of digital Google map with customized pins with text: Map Explore: Part 2

Map Explore: Using Customized Questions

Learn how to play Map Explore and answer the customized map questions.

It just keeps getting better and better!

As an O&M, I am so excited to be able to create customized questions to go along with my customized map! These questions guide the student to focus on orientation and spatial relationships of streets and pins on the map. Students learn organizational strategies such as remembering the left to right order of the north/south streets, associating a pin with a street, associating a location with a region of the map, and more. Students quickly figure out that to be successful with the game, they need to be systematic in how they explore the screen. It is important to not only memorize the information but also how to organize the information in their mind.

Types of Map Explore Questions

Now that the students are familiar with the map, use the questions to see just how much of a mental map the student has developed and how he/she has organized his/her mental map!

There are currently four types of questions. The question is announced and the student has to find the desired area on the map and double tap to select it. During the Question mode of the game, the screen is dark (the visual map is no longer available) and pins are not announced. 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 streets.

Note: North is always at the top of the screen and Map Explore maps are always in portrait mode. Each correct location/answer earns 1,000 points. Points will be give according to how close the location/answer is to the exact location.

Regions: The digital map/ipad screen is divided into four quadrants (north west, north east, south west, and south east). This question type is to encourage the student to remember the general area that a pin is located in. The student simply double taps in the general area (within the right quadrant). Note: The student does not have to know that the quadrant is called north west – only that the pin is located in the top left region of the iPad. Knowing the region is the first step in remembering generally where an item is located. It is also helpful to think of regions when learning to point to or “as the crow flies” type of O&M skills.

O&M Hint: For students who are just learning spatial relationships (or struggle with remembering spatial relationships), create a map and create only Region-type questions. Be sure that the pins used in this map are easily identified to be in a specific quadrant.

Pins: Customized pins are added to the map and are announced in the Explore mode of the map. Remember: The pins are not announced during the Question Mode! Students must remember where these pins are located in relationship to the streets. The student should start dragging his/her finger in the right region and close to the desired street that the pin is on. The student should drag along the associated street; if necessary, the student can find the closest intersections and use the intersections as reference points. Example: In the video, Blossom Flower Shop is on 64, very close to Johnston Street. Finding that intersection will help the student select the desired point or close to it.)

O&M Hint: The O&M student should not start at the top left corner or in a random spot and drag all over the map to find the area near the pin. If the student truly needs additional work in order to begin searching in the general area, edit the map questions and only ask Region-type questions.)

Image 1: This is a screenshot of the Kevin’s Neighborhood and School Map. Visually the map displays the streets, rectangles for buildings, and 6 pins. Text has been added to the screenshot of the map of the pin labels. The video embedded in the post will demonstrate the accessibility of this digital map.

Screenshot of Kevin's Google map. 6 Pins are labeled outside of the map:Kevin's house, Blossom Flowers, Sheriff's Office, Tennis Courts, Pittsboro Elementary, baseball fields.

With pins, if the student does not select the exact location of the pin, an announcement is made, “Now let’s find the pin.” The first time, additional instructions are given, telling the student that the closer he/she drags to the pin, the faster the beeps. (It’s the classic game of hot/cold: the farther away the student drags, the slower the beeps. If close, the student might have to drag in a little circle to find the exact location. When the student’s finger is on the exact location, he/she will hear a bell ringing (“Ding, Ding, Ding!”). This is a powerful tool to help correct the student’s mental map and/or make the student more precise!

Streets: The street questions might be to find a specific street or to find the street that a specific pin is located on. (Examples: “Find Johnston Street.” or “What street is Kevin’s house on?”) With streets, the student simply finds the correct street and double taps anywhere along the street. Again, the student should not be randomly searching for the street, but should already know if the street runs north south or east west, and the general area that the street is located. It is also important to remember the type of street. Example: Johnston Street is a short street that runs between West Salisbury and 64, located at the top, slightly right of the map. If the student drags at the bottom of the map, he/she will not find Johnston Street.

Intersections: Students are asked to find specific intersections. This reinforces the knowledge of which streets intersect (or do not intersect!) and the student has the opportunity to practice following the digital street to find the correct intersecting street. (Remember, once in the correct area, it is important to drag slowly to find the exact intersection.)

The next video will demonstrate the four types of customized questions and how students interact with the map to answer these questions.


Note: It will take some practice to learn how fast to drag your finger, when to stop and listen to the announcements, to circle a small area to find the pin or intersection, and how to follow a sonified street. In the video, I was very familiar with this map and interacting with Map Explore maps, which enabled me to double tap very close to the desired areas. The first time I interacted with this map, I did not double tap close to the desired pins and my lower score reflected that! The student will need multiple opportunities to practice both his/her tech skills and to develop the mental map of each map. With this map, I created about 30 questions, set the the questions to random, and the question sets are limited to 10 questions at a time.

Once the student does well with a simple map (5 or 6 pins covering only a few blocks), expand the map to cover a larger area. In Kevin’s case, the next map might be from John’s house to the east – with pins along the main street of Pittsboro.




By Diane Brauner

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