Mind Maps are an easy and fun classroom activity. A web is a great learning tool for students from kindergarten to high school. Helps kids memorize and organize!
Mind Maps have been around since the 1960s and are the invention of Tony Buzan. On his web page, Mr. Buzan states that the graphic nature of the Mind Map will "unlock the potential of the brain". Making a colorful diagram will help students brainstorm new ideas, organize those thoughts and be able to recall the information more easily in the future.
Children as young as kindergarten can be taught to Mind Map. Young children don't need to be burdened with the label Mind Map; they won't understand it. Simply introduce a new fun activity. Allow creativity through drawing and don't stress about neatness. The object of the first few Mind Maps is the free flow of ideas and learning a life long skill.
Place a drawing or picture of a main topic in the middle of a blank sheet of paper that is landscape style (wider than it is tall). If the topic is cities, the child can draw or glue a picture of a city in the centre of the page taking up roughly 3 inches or 8 cm.
Make branches coming away from the centre topic. Start with four and use a different color for each branch.
Make smaller branches coming from the large branches. The color of the small tributaries will be the same as their main branch.
Brainstorm main ideas around the topic. Draw or put keywords above the branches. A child might write or draw representations of people, buildings, vehicles and businesses around the topic of cities.
Think of smaller sub-topics that relate to the branch keywords. An example of smaller topics around the sub-topic vehicles might be buses, fire trucks, cars and trains. Add the drawings and words to the Mind Map. Then all together in one diagram the facts or ideas about cities are presented.
Continue until all the ideas are represented on the Mind Map. A grade 4 mind map of the Olympics could end up with many branches or ideas stemming from the main idea.
Many classroom teachers already use Mind Maps with their students as an activity for brainstorming. However, it is also a great individual task for making a outline for a project or essay, studying for a quiz, reviewing a classroom unit or generating ideas. Finally, learning to make a Mind Map can be a lesson plan all on its own in order to teach this useful skill for future use.
Since Mind Maps combine pictures and words, they are excellent activities for all students. Special needs students who are non-writers can do Mind Maps along side a gifted student. Mind Maps increase creativity and the flow of new ideas. Children will learn to organize information and learn about planning. Recalling and presenting information to others will be an easier task with the diagrams.
Mind Mapping is a task that can be easily taught to children of any age and ability. It involves drawing a spider diagram around one main topic using drawings, colors and short word phrases. Through Mind Mapping children generate more thoughts, organize their thoughts and are later, better able to recall information.
We are often asked about the introduction of Mind Maps to Younger Children. The approach will need to vary depending upon the age and maturity of the children involved but let us tell you how we teach children who we think would get bored by being told about Mind Mapping and really are only interested in doing stuff. First of all we never tell the kids that we are "Mind Mapping" or doing anything special. We tell them that we are going to learn about, for example, a farm.
We will have a huge piece of paper (at least flip chart size) and will either ask them to draw what a farm looks like or will get the kids to cut out pictures from magazines so that there is a central image of a farm. If we don't have any child safe scissors we usually cut out a load of pictures myself but if we can encourage the children to sort through magazines and find their own pictures, providing it is safe, we'll let them cut them out.
We then ask them what sort of things do we see on a farm. We either suggest or try to encourage them to come up with generic words like Animals, Buildings, Crops, People, Machinery etc. These form the Key Images on the main branches because we will either ask them to draw an animal or a building etc or once again get them to cut pictures out from Magazines.
Then having captured the main branches we will go deeper into one of the topic areas for example we will ask what animals they may find on a farm and again sub branches for sheep, cows, pigs, hens etc develop and once again the children will generate these branches themselves. Now my description of this process is somewhat linear because as you are no doubt aware, young children will just tell you everything that they can think of without following my adult-orientated logical approach. We describe it in this way for ease of explanation but essentially what happens is that the mind map will grow and it will consist entirely of pictures structured in Mind Map form. In fact capturing the information this way is a great way of harnessing children's creativity and spontaneity. A more linear, topic by topic approach may stifle a child's natural desire to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Another good thing about doing it this way is that the children can work together in teams, one doing the "Animal" branch, another doing the "Machinery" branch etc.
If this approach is adopted when covering any topic, it will just seem natural to the children that it is the most sensible and fun way to capture information. Then if you ask the children to tell you all about the farm (or whatever the subject is) they will "see" the Mind Map, particularly the bits that they were responsible for, and will give a very comprehensive and structured account of a farm. If you are dealing with very young children who are just learning to read, you could label the Mind Map Images with large lettered words to help them recognise the words from the pictures.
For parents this is a great way of bonding with your child and exploring a subject together. For teachers it is a simple way of engaging young children in an activity that will help them learn and process information about a topic. Try it and let us know how you get on with it.
1. What books on mind mapping is recommended?
There are two books that I would recommend on the subject of Mind Mapping and they are both by the inventor of the Technique - Tony Buzan. The first is the book that originally introduced the concept to the world and it is called "Use Your Head". It is a BBC book ISBN 0-563-37103-x. The second is a more in-depth study of the technique and is appropriately called "The Mind Map Book". Also a BBC book, its ISBN is 0-563-37101-3. Both are available at good bookstores.
2. Is mind mapping only suitable for learning?
The great thing about Mind Mapping is that it utilises both sides of your brain which means that you will think much more effectively. So in addition to being great for learning, if ever you have to express or arrange your thoughts on paper, then the Mind Map is the best way to do it. So it can be used for planning, your creative work, problem solving, thought organisation and many other thinking processes. Which means it is not only a wonderful educational tool, it is extremely effective as a management and personal development tool.
3. Is it difficult taking notes in lectures using mind maps?
You will find that as you make the transition from your old way of note taking to Mind Mapping, there will be a stage where it will seem too difficult. That is natural when you develop any new skill. My advice to you is to take the plunge and keep mind mapping until it clicks. That way you will develop proficiency very quickly. Now before you run off and accuse me of insensitivity, consider this. If you find the prospect of just doing it until it comes (I know it works because that is how I learnt) then what I would suggest is that you Mind Map until you think you are missing information and then revert to your old way of note taking. BUT YOU MUST MIND MAP YOUR OLD NOTE FORMAT AFTERWARDS. Gradually you will rely less and less on "conventional" note taking until you are a full time convert. Even then, compare your notes with a friend to make sure that you are getting the important information down. (Remember that you must review your Mind Maps to reinforce the information.) To practice, why not try mind mapping the news for a week or two. You will find that the information will come at a very fast pace and so by stretching yourself beyond what you would expect in class, doing this for a week will certainly develop your skill.
4. What is a mega mind map?
A Mega Mind Map is a huge Mind Map (as the name implies) and is used to put the entire contents of a subject on a single piece of paper. I normally use Flip Chart Paper which is generally big enough to get the entire contents of an A Level Subject Syllabus on it. The great thing about using a Mega Mind Map is that you can get an overview of the entire subject and see the relationships between elements of the subject.