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Mapping the News

As children watch television news, a building may crumble, a volcano may erupt, or a car may be lifted by a tornado and dropped upside down. Help your child understand that this is not happening in his or her backyard. Young children hear place names—Iraq, Florida, Washington—but have a hard time understanding the concept of distance. Telling them that an unusual or frightening event happened far away just doesn't work.

Use a map or globe to mark where you live and where the event occurred. Then, give your child a basis for understanding how far away the two points are. For example, if they know that it takes 2 hours to drive to grandma's house, pinpoint where grandma lives and see how many more hours it could take to get to the location of the event.

If the event is local, get an area street map, go online to count the numbers of streets, or measure the distance using the map's distance scale. Remember, make the distance make sense by comparing it to a place that children know. For example, tell them it would be like driving back and forth five times to the grocery store that is more than hour away.

Keep the map handy to continue pointing out where news events occur.

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Updated on 4/5/2013