Community and Classroom Tools

While this project captures and presents disabled peoples’ experiences of their environments during the coronavirus pandemic, we also hope that it reveals how map-making can be used as a creative tool. Map-making provides a way to reflect on our environments, how we use space, and how space impacts both our movements and our relationships with the world. Maps can capture significant changes in our lives and reveal everyday patterns of how we live and move. The process of making a map, then, can be a productive and generous one in all contexts. Therefore, we also invite community members, students, and instructors to adapt our map-making guide for their own use. As part of this invitation, below you will find guiding questions and prompts that can be used and/or adapted for your own map-making journey.

What are Maps?

Maps can come in many forms, styles, perspectives, and mediums. In this project we kept our definition of maps very broad. We received photos, word-maps, poetry, drawings, paintings, and computer-generated maps, including any medium that reflected on “space” and “movement” more broadly. The scope and scale of a map can vary as well; you can map your mind, your home, your neighborhood, your city, or beyond. We encourage you to take “map” as a flexible term in adapting this exercise to your own needs.

Begin by thinking about one or more of the following questions:

  1. How do you relate to your environment?
  2. What spaces and places do you move in, and how do you move in them? 
  3. What impacts your relationship to your environment?
  4. What senses does your environment engage with?
  5. What characteristics or qualities of your space do you want to focus on?
  6. How does your environment shape your movement within it?
  7. How does your environment heal, harm, or give you hope?

Next, think about the space you want to map:

  1. Room
  2. House
  3. Neighborhood
  4. City
  5. Mind
  6. Future/Imagined Space

Decide on a type of map you want to work on:

  1. Map from above (Aerial view)
  2. Drawing from the ground (Human perspective)
  3. Bird’s Eye Perspective (From a 45 degree angle)
  4. Representational map (sounds, feelings, etc.)
  5. Just words (mental map)

Consider the follow details:

  • Title – simply describes what your map is about
  • Symbols – shapes, points, lines
  • Lines – help show a path
  • Color – use different colors to represent different things on your map
  • Legend – help the reader by explaining what the symbols and colors mean
  • Labels – words to describe different parts of the map, such as the name of a place or street name
  • Pictures – you can incorporate photographs

Start Map-Making!

Add a Map Statement:

Be sure to add a couple sentences describing your map:
  • What city/region does the map show?
  • Are there landmarks on your map you want to highlight?
  • Do you want to share anything about the process of making your map?
  • Can you tell us about your map?

Don’t forget access: Include an image description of your map (both for context and access purposes if you want to display it). For more on making your maps, displays, or content accessible, see

Be Creative:

The above are just tips. You can adapt and interpret “map” and “environment” as you wish. The goal is to use the map-making process to document and reflect on your relationship to and experience with your environment.

Share Thoughts and Lessons Learned:

Please share back any thoughts or lessons learned from trying out these ideas and activities in your classroom. You can email us at the contacts at the bottom of the page. We’d love to hear from you.