Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about concept maps. It is designed to complement the Concept Maps topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Review different graphic organizers with students, such as word webs, KWL charts, Venn diagrams, and cause-and-effect charts. What do these graphic organizers have in common? Guide children to understand that they are all tools that organize information to help you understand it. Explain to children that a concept map is a graphic organizer that shows and connects different ideas. It shares your understanding of a topic and helps organize your thoughts. You may want to show an example of a concept map and have children describe what they see. How are concepts connected together? Guide them to understand that related ideas are grouped together, which can help you find patterns. Remind students that we can use a concept map to link information we already know with new ideas that we learn.

Create a concept map together. Brainstorm different ideas and stress that it’s important to focus on one idea and concentrate on something specific. For example, making a concept map about oceans can be helpful. But creating one about how pollution affects ocean habitats or how fish stay safe in the ocean will help direct thinking and stay focused. Remind students that they may want to start with a specific question, such as “How do fish stay safe in open waters?” You may want to explain that the focus question should not be a yes/no question and should be open-ended and specific.

After selecting a question or main concept, brainstorm different supporting details together. Encourage students to be creative and come up with ideas—no idea is too small! Then model how to write the ideas into nodes, or circles. You may want to point out how arrows connect related ideas together. You may also want to label the arrows with a detail that helps explain the connection between the ideas. Invite students to organize the ideas and group them together into categories. Then have them brainstorm more ideas that fit into the categories and remove ideas that do not fit. Complete the concept map together! You may want to model using different shapes and colors to group ideas.

Together, think about how a concept map might be useful. How might you use it when you’re preparing a book report or an essay? How might a concept map help you organize your paragraphs?

It’s important for students to understand that there’s no wrong way to make a concept map. This is a tool that directs creative thinking, so they should let their imaginations run wild!